"divination by means of a cock and grains of corn," 1680s, from -mancy "divination" + Latinized form of Greek alektryon "cock," literally "warder-off, fighter," related to alexein "to ward off, drive or keep off" (see Alexander, and compare Alekto, name of one of the three Furies). Perhaps originally a personal name, applied at first to the fighting cock, then to cocks generally. The earlier form of the word in English was alectoromancy (1650s). Letters of the alphabet were traced on the ground and a grain of corn was placed on each.
updated on September 16, 2022