alphito-, alphit-

(Greek: barly, pearl barley, groats; originally, "white grain")

Divination with barley meal and honey loaves; once it was used as a method to determine if one were guilty of some crime by having the accused try to eat a barley cake and if he couldn’t swallow it, or if he got sick, he was considered guilty (this same method is said to have been used by the Chinese with rice cakes).

In some cases, before eating, each suspect was required to say, "If I am deceiving you, may this piece of bread choke me."

According to Walter Gibson and Litzka Gibson in their The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination and Prophecy, in 1053, "Earl Godwin of Wessex, England, collapsed while taking this test to support a false oath, and died a few days later. This case has frequently been cited as a strong argument in favor of alphitomancy as a divinatory process."

Another version explains, "The suspects were rounded up. Each was required to say, 'If I am deceiving you, may this bread act upon me foul.' A portion of barley or wheat bread was then served to each suspect.

Those innocent of the crime supposedly would suffer no ill effects, while the guilty person would experience an attack of indigestion so painful that it was impossible to conceal it."

1. Having the appearance of barley-meal; applied to pulverulent microscopic fungi, parasitical on plants.
2. Having a characteristic mealy or granular appearance; used with reference to some plant diseases.
3. Having the appeasrance of peeled (pearl) barley; applied to certain fungi.