Macquarie Dictionary


Have a magical Halloween

This Halloween, we’re thinking about one of our favourite suffixes, -mancy. Meaning ‘divination’, there are many fascinating words depicting the craft of what is in some cases very specific forms of fortune telling. These are largely older words, but we’ve picked a few of the best. Let us know of any new words (we’ve got our eye on technomancy and lexicomancy is starting to look pretty good too) that relate to divination.







cephaleonomancy	a form of ancient divination in which the head of a donkey was burnt on hot coals, the point at which the jaw fell from the skull being taken as prophetic.

alectryomancy	a form of divination whereby a bird, usually a black hen or a white gamecock, is allowed to pick grains of corn from a circle of letters, thus forming words.

crystallomancy	divination by means of a transparent body, such as a crystal ball, precious stone, or mirror.

ichthyomancy	divination by means of fish.

sycomancy	divination by means of writing messages on the leaves of trees and waiting for them to dry.

apantomancy	forecasting from chance meetings with animals, as a black cat.


oenomancy	the use of wine in determining omens.

alphitomancy	a means of divination using special cakes that are said to have a pleasant taste only for persons with a clear conscience.

pyromancy	divination by fire or by forms appearing in fire.


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