Word of the Day : July 9, 2012


noun HYE-druh-man-see


: divination by the appearance or motion of liquids (as water)

Did You Know?

If you've ever encountered a sorceress or a wizard peering into a "scrying bowl" as part of a movie or a book, you've witnessed a (fictionalized) version of "hydromancy." The word has been used since at least the 14th century to describe the use of water in divination - examples include predicting the future by the motion of the tides or contacting spirits using still water. "Hydromancy" is believed to derive ultimately from the Greek words for "water" ("hydōr") and "divination" ("manteia"); it came to English via Latin "hydromantia." The ancient Greeks who relied on hydromancy also gave us the names for related forms of divination, such as "necromancy" (using the dead), "pyromancy" (with fire), and even "rhabdomancy," a fancy and now rare word for "divination with wands or rods."


Madame Forthwith practices hydromancy, using a bowl of clear water to predict the future rather than the traditional crystal ball.

"Did that mean the Elders couldn't do hydromancy, or that they were too law-abiding to try it? I took a deep breath." - From Suzanne Johnson's 2012 fantasy novel Royal Street

Test Your Vocabulary

What is the word (beginning with "o") for divination by means of dreams? The answer is ...


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