noun, plural mantises, mantes [man-teez] .
any of several predaceous insects of the order Mantidae, having a long prothorax and typically holding the forelegs in an upraised position as if in prayer.
Also, mantid.
Also called praying mantis.

1650–60; < Neo-Latin < Greek mántis prophet, kind of insect; akin to mania Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mantis (ˈmæntɪs)
n , pl -tises, -tes
See also cockroach Also called: praying mantis any carnivorous typically green insect of the family Mantidae, of warm and tropical regions, having a long body and large eyes and resting with the first pair of legs raised as if in prayer: order Dictyoptera
[C17: New Latin, from Greek: prophet, alluding to its praying posture]

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Word Origin & History

1658, "type of insect that holds its forelegs in a praying position" (esp. the praying mantis, Mantis religiosa), from Gk. mantis, lit. "one who divines, a seer, prophet," from mainesthai "be inspired," related to menos "passion, spirit" (see mania). The insect so called for
its way of holding the forelimbs as if in prayer. Also used in Gk. for some sort of grasshopper (Theocritus).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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