• WordNet 3.6
    • n ichneumon northern African mongoose; in ancient times thought to devour crocodile eggs
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The ichneumon fly has a sense of smell so keen that it can locate a caterpillar deep inside a tree trunk.
    • Ichneumon (Zoöl) 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.
    • Ichneumon (Zoöl) Any hymenopterous insect of the family Ichneumonidæ, of which several thousand species are known, belonging to numerous genera.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n ichneumon 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. It is of slender form, somewhat like that of the weasel tribe. The body is about 19 inches long, and of a grizzled brownish and yellowish color, due to the annulation of the hairs with different shades; the muzzle and paws are black, and the tail is tufted. It feeds on various small mammals, reptiles, or other animals, and has long been noted for devouring crocodiles’ eggs, on which account it was held in great regard by the Egyptians. It is easily domesticated, and is useful in destroying vermin. Also called Pharaoh's rat.
    • n ichneumon [capitalized] A genus of herpestine viverrine mammals, containing the species I. pharaonis. See Herpestes.
    • n ichneumon In entomology:
    • n ichneumon [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 ichneumon A species of the genus Ichneumon or family Ichneumonidæ; an ichneumon-fly; a cuckoo-fly.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Ichneumon ik-nū′mun a small carnivorous animal in Egypt, destroying crocodiles' eggs: an insect which lays its eggs on the larva of other insects.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L., fr. Gr. , lit., the tracker; so called because it hunts out the eggs of the crocodile, fr. to track or hunt after, fr. 'i`chnos track, footstep
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.,—Gr., ichneuein, to hunt after—ichnos, a track.


In literature:

It is a pretty little animal, a species of ichneumon with catlike habits and a very prying disposition.
"Norman Vallery" by W.H.G. Kingston
Of insects, Oestrus, Ichneumon, Libellula 29.
"The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society" by Erasmus Darwin
The ichneumon and the shrewmouse were also held sacred, though not identified with a human god.
"The Religion of Ancient Egypt" by W. M. Flinders Petrie
This is the ichneumon fly.
"The Meaning of Evolution" by Samuel Christian Schmucker
Ichneumon, the living, 138.
"Whittier-land" by Samuel T. Pickard
Besides the ichneumons, mentioned above, the feathered tribes do much towards keeping them down.
"British Butterfiles" by W. S. Coleman
Ichneumon flies and their beneficial habit.
"A Guide for the Study of Animals" by Worrallo Whitney
The ichneumon fly, Fig.
"Wood and Forest" by William Noyes
But she feared the ichneumon might not love his brother.
"Curious Myths of the Middle Ages" by Sabine Baring-Gould
The simplest are those of the large Ichneumon flies: The mother fly lays an egg beneath the skin of the caterpillar.
"Butterflies Worth Knowing" by Clarence M. Weed