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Definition: An ancient form of divination or augury whereby predictions were made based on how cockerel’s picked grain from the ground.

Pronunciation: ah-lek-tree-uh-man-cee


Alectryomancy derives from the Greek words ‘Alektryon’, meaning ‘to ward off’, and ‘mantria’, referring to an oracle.

Why this word?

Alectryomancy is a legitimate word to describe the practice of divining the truth via interpreting the grain eating patterns of cockerels. Let’s all just take a minute to think about that…

Alectryomancy was used in ancient Rome and Greece and even survived up to recent times in parts of Africa. Indeed, in ancient Rome, it was a legitimately acceptable way to legally identify thieves. There were different techniques that could be used by the diviner – or ‘Pullularius’ (translates roughly as the rather grandiloquent sounding ‘The Keeper of the Chickens’). Some diviners scattered seed on the ground and drew conclusions from the pecking patterns of the promenading poultry (apologies – alliteration overload). Others arranged the seed into letters and watched at which the birds would peck.

 Not all alectryomantic practices involved grain pecking, however. In some cases, the alectryomancer would simply talk to the cockerel and interpret the movements and noises of the bird in response.

 Sadly, the practice of alectryomancy died out when much more reliable practices and sciences were developed. For example – I’m sure that everyone today is grateful that we live in a world of highly accurate economic forecasters rather than an alectryomantic world that relies on leaving things up to chance. We really have come a long way…

How to use the word Alectryomancy in a sentence?

Rather than give advice on how to use the word alectryomancy, I will, instead, offer this opinion. If using the word alectryomancy seems to make sense in your life, then you, my friend, need more help than can offer…

Bonus section: How to Use This Word In A Terrible Pun:

 As augury practices go, Alectryomancy is at the top of the pecking order…



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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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