- Also called African mongoose, Egyptian mongoose. a slender, long-tailed mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, inhabiting Africa and southern Europe, and believed by the ancient Egyptians to devour crocodile eggs.
- ichneumon fly.
- a mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, of Africa and S Europe, having greyish-brown speckled fur
1570s, originally a weasel-like animal in Egypt, Latinized from Greek ikhneumon, literally “searcher, tracker,” perhaps because it hunts crocodile eggs, from ikhneuein “hunt for, track,” from ikhnos “a track, footstep, trace, clue,” of unknown origin. Used by Aristotle for a species of wasp that hunts spiders (a sense in English from 1650s).