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[ik-noo-muh n, -nyoo-] /ɪkˈnu mən, -ˈnyu-/
Also called African mongoose, Egyptian mongoose. a slender, long-tailed mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, inhabiting Africa and southern Europe, and believed by the ancient Egyptians to devour crocodile eggs.
Origin of ichneumon
1565-75; < Latin < Greek ichneúmōn tracker, equivalent to ichneú(ein) to track (see ichno-) + -mōn agent suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ichneumon
  • Not that the ichneumon wasp is making any conscious choice.
  • We did find a large ichneumon wasp that had drowned in our bucket and a large wolf spider quite alive.
  • Descriptions of one new family, eight new genera, and thirty-three new species of ichneumon-flies.
British Dictionary definitions for ichneumon


a mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, of Africa and S Europe, having greyish-brown speckled fur
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek, literally: tracker, hunter, from ikhneuein to track, from ikhnos a footprint; so named from the animal's alleged ability to locate the eggs of crocodiles
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for ichneumon

1570s, originally a weasel-like animal in Egypt, Latinized from Greek ikhneumon, literally "searcher, tracker," perhaps because it hunts crocodile eggs, from ikhneuein "hunt for, track," from ikhnos "a track, footstep, trace, clue," of unknown origin. Used by Aristotle for a species of wasp that hunts spiders (a sense in English from 1650s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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