- divination by means of a rod or wand, especially in discovering ores, springs of water, etc.
- divination for water or mineral ore by means of a rod or wand; dowsing; divining
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-, base of roots meaning “to turn, bend” (cf. Lithuanian virbas “twig, branch, scion, rod,” Latin verbena “leaves and branches of laurel”); see warp (v.); the Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic