Monday, January 29, 2007

The Daily Hump: Don't Mind the Praying Mantis

Growing up it was a rare treat when we'd find a praying mantis in the yard. At most we'd spot one once per summer; the mantis would usually be found sitting on a tree limb curiously observing whoever happened to be mowing the lawn that day. I remember often hearing there was a $50 fine for killing one of the creatures. That turns out to be false, but regardless the graceful animals are certainly not pests so who would want to do them harm anyway?

Moving on...mantis is Greek for "seer" and as the AHD notes
the Greeks, who made the connection between the upraised front legs of a mantis waiting for its prey and the hands of a prophet in prayer, used the name mantis to mean “the praying mantis.” This word and sense were picked up in Modern Latin and from there came into English, being first recorded in 1658. Once we know the origin of the term mantis, we realize that the species names praying mantis and Mantis religiosa are a bit redundant.
In addition, the word is directly related to the suffix -mancy (as in necromancy). The Greek mantis is from the verb mainesthai, meaning "to be inspired", which is in turn related to menos, "passion, spirit." This is the source of our word mania. All of these forms derive from the Proto-Indo-European *men-, "to think, to have one's mind aroused, rage, be furious", which is the root of our English word mind.

mantis [Online Etymology Dictionary]
praying mantis [Wikipedia]

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:: posted by David, 9:07 AM


Do you remember the summer that Mr. Morris' mantis collection exploded to cover the whole classroom?
Blogger Loocite, at 10:18 AM  

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