• WordNet 3.6
    • n serpent limbless scaly elongate reptile; some are venomous
    • n serpent an obsolete bass cornet; resembles a snake
    • n serpent a firework that moves in serpentine manner when ignited
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

An Immense Serpent Stretched across the Road An Immense Serpent Stretched across the Road
Immense serpents were peeping out of holes on every side Immense serpents were peeping out of holes on every side
We soon were awakened by the hissing of an enormous serpent We soon were awakened by the hissing of an enormous serpent

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The "caduceus" the classical medical symbol of two serpents wrapped around a staff comes from an ancient Greek legend in which snakes revealed the practice of medicine to human beings.
    • Serpent (Mus) A bass wind instrument, of a loud and coarse tone, formerly much used in military bands, and sometimes introduced into the orchestra; -- so called from its form.
    • Serpent A species of firework having a serpentine motion as it passess through the air or along the ground.
    • Serpent (Zoöl) Any reptile of the order Ophidia; a snake, especially a large snake. See Illust. under Ophidia.
    • Serpent Fig.: A subtle, treacherous, malicious person.
    • Serpent (Astron) The constellation Serpens.
    • v. i Serpent To wind like a serpent; to crook about; to meander. "The serpenting of the Thames."
    • v. t Serpent To wind; to encircle.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: A 17th-century Swedish philologist claimed that in the Garden of Eden God spoke Swedish, Adam spoke Danish, and the serpent spoke French.
    • serpent Crawling on the belly, as a snake, or reptant, as an ophidian; of or pertaining to the Serpentia: correlated with salient and gradient.
    • serpent Having the form or nature of a serpent; of a kind similar to that which a serpent has or might have.
    • serpent Serpentine; winding; tortuous.
    • n serpent A scaly creature that crawls on the belly; a limbless reptile; properly, a snake; any member of the order Ophidia (which see for technical characters). Serpent and snake now mean precisely the same thing; but the word serpent is somewhat more formal or technical than snake, so that it seldom applies to the limbless lizards, many of which are popularly mistaken for and called snakes, and snake had originally a specific meaning. (See snake.) Serpents are found all over the world, except in very cold regions. Most of them are timid, inoffensive, and defenseless animals; others are among the most dangerous and deadly of all creatures. Some are very powerful, in consequence of their great size and faculty of constriction, as boas, pythons, and anacondas. Those which are not venomous are known as innocuous serpents, or Innocua; those which are poisonous are noxious serpents, or Nocua, sometimes collectively called Thanatophidia. All are carnivorous; and most are able, by means of their dilatable mouths and the general distensibility of their bodies, to swallow animals of greater girth than themselves. In cold and temperate countries serpents hibernate in a state of torpidity. They are oviparous or ovoviviparous, and in some cases the young take refuge from danger by crawling into the gullet of the mother, whence the common belief that snakes swallow their young. Most serpents can be tamed, or at least rendered gentle, by handling; others, as the rat-snake of India, are almost domestic; but the more venomous kinds can be safely handled only when the fangs have been removed. There is a very general misapprehension respecting the comparative numbers of venomous and harmless serpents. Out of more than 300 genera of ophidians, only about 50, or one sixth, are poisonous, and more than half of these belong to the two families Najidæ and Crotalidæ (the cobra and the rattlesnake families). The true vipers (Viperidæ) and the sea-serpents (Hydrophidæ), all venomous, have six or eight genera apiece; and four other venomous families have but one to three genera apiece. The proportion of venomous to non-venomous species is still smaller than that of the genera, as the latter will average more species to a genus than the former. Poisonous serpents are mainly confined to tropical and warm temperate countries; they are more numerous and diversified in the Old World than in the New, and rather more forms are Proteroglypha than Solenoglypha (see these words). Serpents large enough to be formidable from their powers of constriction belong to the Boidæ and Pythonidæ. A few families contain very small species, worm-like in appearance and to some extent in habits. A majority of all serpents belong to one family, the harmless Colubridæ. See cuts under the various popular and technical names.
    • n serpent [capitalized] In astronomy, a constellation in the northern hemisphere. See Ophiuchus.
    • n serpent A musical instrument, properly of the trumpet family, having a cupped mouthpiece, a conical wooden tube bent to and fro several times and usually covered with leather, and nine fingerholes very irregularly disposed. Its compass extended from two to four octaves upward from about the third C below middle C, and included more or less diatonic and chromatic tones according to the skill of the performer. Its tone was pervasive, though somewhat harsh. It is said to have been invented by a canon of Auxerre in 1590 for use in church music. It was retained in orchestras until the invention of the contrafagotto, and is still occasionally used in French churches.
    • n serpent In organ-building, a reed-stop similar to the trombone.
    • n serpent Figuratively, a person who in looks or ways suggests a serpent; a wily, treacherous person; rarely, a fatally fascinating person.
    • n serpent A kind of firework which burns with a zigzag, serpentine motion or light.
    • n serpent In firearms, same as serpentin.
    • serpent To wind along like a snake, as a river; take or have a serpentine course; meander.
    • serpent To entwine; girdle as with the coils of a serpent.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Serpent sėr′pent any member of the genus Ophidia, more popularly known as snakes—any reptile without feet which moves by means of its ribs and scales: a snake: a person treacherous or malicious: one of the constellations in the northern hemisphere:
    • v.i Serpent to wind along: to meander
    • v.t Serpent to girdle, as with the coils of a serpent
    • n Serpent a kind of firework: a 16th-cent. form of cannon: a mineral composed of silica and manganese, generally occurring massive, colour some shade of green, also red and brownish-yellow
    • v.i Serpent to wind or wriggle like a serpent
    • n Serpent sėr′pent (mus.) a bass musical wind-instrument, entirely obsolete except in a few Continental churches, a tapered leather-covered wooden tube 8 feet long, twisted about like a serpent
    • ***


  • Baltasar Gracian
    “At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty a nothing at all.”
  • William Shakespeare
    “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.”
  • D. H. Lawrence
    “The deadly Hydra now is the hydra of Equality. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity is the three-fanged serpent.”
  • Haug
    “Innocent as a dove you will harm no one, but wise as a serpent no one will harm you.”
  • Minna Antrim
    “The Green-eyed Monster causes much woe, but the absence of this ugly serpent argues the presence of a corpse whose name is Eros.”
  • King Jr. Martin Luther
    “We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F., fr. L. serpens, -entis,sc. bestia,), fr. serpens, p. pr. of serpere, to creep; akin to Gr. , Skr. sarp, and perhaps to L. repere, E. reptile,. Cf. Herpes
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. serpens, -entis, pr.p. of serpĕre, to creep; akin to Gr. herpein.


In literature:

Blaspheme not: these are Serpent's words.
"The Works of Lord Byron" by Lord Byron
It was a huge serpent.
"In the Wilds of Africa" by W.H.G. Kingston
This is known by the head-dress, the teeth, the air-trumpet, the serpent symbol, etc.
"Studies in Central American Picture-Writing" by Edward S. Holden
"Italian Popular Tales" by Thomas Frederick Crane
Allied to the true eagles are the serpent-eagles.
"Birds of the Indian Hills" by Douglas Dewar
He called loudly for some one to come and kill the serpent.
"The Land of the Kangaroo" by Thomas Wallace Knox
In the dance they imitated the undulations of the serpent, raising the head and twisting the tail.
"The World's Greatest Books, Volume 19" by Various
This is another serpent.
"The River of Darkness" by William Murray Graydon
A rope lying on the road is taken for a serpent, but it is only a rope.
"Life and Work in Benares and Kumaon, 1839-1877" by James Kennedy
During the winter serpents are believed to sleep.
"The Science of Fairy Tales" by Edwin Sidney Hartland

In poetry:

He gave the vaulted heav'n its form,
The crooked serpent, and the worm;
He breaks the billows with his breath,
And smites the sons of pride to death.
"Hymn 170" by Isaac Watts
"Remember, in your stress,
The fragrant flower of youth,
The ancient loveliness,
The wise, substantial truth.
The City is a golden lie, a serpent's awful tooth!"
"Manhattan" by Charles Hanson Towne
Back on herself her serpent pride had curl'd.
"No voice," she shriek'd in that lone hall,
"No voice breaks thro' the stillness of this world:
One deep, deep silence all!"
"The Palace of Art" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Their souls are serpents winterbound and frozen,
Their shame is as a tame beast, at their feet
Couched; their cold lips deride thee and thy chosen,
Their lying lips made grey with dust for meat.
"Mater Triumphalis" by Algernon Charles Swinburne
His business finished the gardener rose.
He shook and swore, for the moonlight shows
A girl with a fire-tongued serpent, she
Grasping him, laughing, while quietly
Her eyes are weeping.
Is he sleeping?
"The Book Of Hours Of Sister Clotilde" by Amy Lowell
The steep hill and the bower on it, the strips of golden wheat,
The path that like a serpent into the dark woods wound,
The peaceful light of dawn that shone beyond the slumberous stream —
And silence on our circle fell; we sat without a sound.
"Dreams" by Semen Yakovlevich Nadson

In news:

Children's Corner: Talking with ' Serpent 's Shadow' author Rick Riordan.
Rick Riordan has wrapped up his "Kane Chronicles" series with "The Serpent 's Shadow.
Perhaps Albright's most famous pin, this serpent was purposely worn after Saddam Hussein compared her to an "unparalleled serpent .".
If you can't see the ground, you can't see serpents .
Specter's Lesson: Sharper Than a Serpent 's Tooth Is an Ungrateful Abortion Lobby.
Sharper than a serpent 's tooth.
And the Serpent Said, Have a Bite of Chocolate.
The Plumed Serpent God, Photographic Fame & More.
Serpent's Tail/Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.
Sharper than a serpent's tooth.
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a resigning employee.
Specter's Lesson: Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth Is an Ungrateful Abortion Lobby.
Asian and Australian serpents were thought to be one, but DNA proves otherwise.
A gold serpent brooch that then-U.
The Wild Side by Scott Shalaway: Spiders, serpents and bats , oh my.

In science:

To connect this epilogue back to the prologue like the proverbial tail-biting serpent, in QG research the glaring absence of comprehensive experiments and thus of reliable and concrete experimental data to support and constrain theorymaking is, at least from a mathematical viewpoint, quite liberating.
`Iconoclastic', Categorical Quantum Gravity
The Mayan pyramid of Kukulk´an (also called El Castil lo, “The Castle”) in Chich´en Itz´a, in the Mexican state of Yucat´an, was built so that the setting sun, around the time of the equinoxes, casts a shadow that looks like a serpent slithering down the side of the staircase.
The sun's position in the sky