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Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:

NECROMANCY

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The necro in necromancy (pronounced NEK-ruh-man-see) you'll recognize from necrophilia, from the Greek nekros, "corpse." The mancy comes from the Greek manteia, "divination." We see –mancy in many compounds: ailuromancy, divination from the behavior of cats; bibliomancy, divination from passages in a book, particularly the Bible, chosen at random; oneiromancy, divination through the interpretation of dreams.

Necromancy is, strictly speaking, communing with the spirits of the dead to predict the future, more broadly "black magic" or "sorcery."

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Of all the ­–mancies, this one has a bad reputation.

Example: From H.L. Mencken's review of The Social Objectives of School English by Charles S. Pendleton (March 1925): "I present Dr. Pendleton's laborious work as overwhelming proof of a thesis that I have maintained for years, perhaps sometimes with undue heat: that pedagogy in the United States is fast descending to the estate of a childish necromancy, and that the worst idiots, even among the pedagogues, are the teachers of English."

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