• synonyms


  1. divination by means of a rod or wand, especially in discovering ores, springs of water, etc.
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Origin of rhabdomancy

1640–50; < Late Greek rhabdomanteía; see rhabdo-, -mancy
Related formsrhab·do·man·tist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rhabdomancy

Historical Examples

  • It is not water, but treasures which they profess to find by some hidden kind of rhabdomancy.

    Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers

    Thomas De Quincey

  • Rhabdomancy, a species of divination by means of a hazel rod to trace the presence of minerals or metals under ground.

    The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

    Edited by Rev. James Wood

  • Hazel-rods were used to "divine" for water and minerals by professors of an art which received the crack-jaw title of Rhabdomancy.


    Juliana Horatia Ewing

  • Sir Thomas Browne also speaks of a 'strange kind of exploration and peculiar way of Rhabdomancy' used in mineral discoveries.


    Benjamin Taylor

British Dictionary definitions for rhabdomancy


  1. divination for water or mineral ore by means of a rod or wand; dowsing; divining
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Derived Formsrhabdomantist or rhabdomancer, noun

Word Origin

C17: via Late Latin from Late Greek rhabdomanteia, from rhabdos a rod + manteia divination
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rhabdomancy


1640s, "use of divining rod" (especially to discover ores or underground water), from Greek rhabdos "rod, wand; magic wand; fishing rod; spear-shaft; a staff of office; a rod for chastisement; twig, stick" + manteia "divination, oracle" (see -mancy). Greek rhabdos is from PIE *wer-, base of roots meaning "to turn, bend" (cf. Lithuanian virbas "twig, branch, scion, rod," Latin verbena "leaves and branches of laurel"); see warp (v.); the Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper