from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) of Africa and southern Europe, having a gray coat and black tail tufts. Also called Egyptian mongoose.
  • n. The ichneumon fly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, found in Africa and southern Europe.
  • n. The ichneumon wasp.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any carnivorous mammal of the genus Herpestes, and family Viverridæ. Numerous species are found in Asia and Africa. The Egyptian species (Herpestes ichneumon), which ranges to Spain and Palestine, is noted for destroying the eggs and young of the crocodile as well as various snakes and lizards, and hence was considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians. The common species of India (Herpestes griseus), known as the mongoose, has similar habits and is often domesticated. It is noted for killing the cobra.
  • n. Any hymenopterous insect of the family Ichneumonidæ, of which several thousand species are known, belonging to numerous genera.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A carnivorous mammal, a kind of mungoose (Viverra ichneumon of Linnæus, now known as Herpestes ichneumon), found in Egypt, belonging to the subfamily Herpestinæ and family Viverridæ.
  • n. [capitalized] A genus of herpestine viverrine mammals, containing the species I. pharaonis. See Herpestes.
  • n. In entomology:
  • n. [capitalized] A Linnean genus of hymenopterous insects, formerly including most of the pupivorous or parasitic hymenopters, now restricted to certain species of ichneumon-flies which are regarded as typical of the genuine Ichneumonidæ.
  • n. A species of the genus Ichneumon or family Ichneumonidæ; an ichneumon-fly; a cuckoo-fly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. northern African mongoose; in ancient times thought to devour crocodile eggs


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin ichneumōn, weasel, ichneumon fly, from Greek ikhneumōn, from ikhneuein, to track, from ikhnos, track.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin ichneumon, from Ancient Greek ἰχνεύμων (ikhneúmōn, "tracker")’, from ἴχνος (íkhnos, "track, footstep").



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  • From the examples:

    “Go back to Aristotle, and we may listen to him again while he talks of many other kindred insects: of the humble-bee and its kind, of the mason-bee with its hard round nest of clay, of the robber-bees, and of the various wasps and hornets; or (still more curiously and unexpectedly) of the hunter-wasp or 'ichneumon', and how it kills the spider, carries it home to its nest, and lays its eggs in its poor body, that the little wasp-grubs may afterwards be fed.”

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  • Seen here.

    August 26, 2008