1640s, "use of divining rod" (especially to discover ores or underground water), from Greek rhabdos "rod, wand; magic wand; fishing rod; spear-shaft; a staff of office; a rod for chastisement; twig, stick" + manteia "divination, oracle" (see -mancy). Greek rhabdos is from PIE *wer- (2), base of roots meaning "to turn, bend" (source also of Lithuanian virbas "twig, branch, scion, rod," Latin verbena "leaves and branches of laurel"). The Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic
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