Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mythical serpent having a head at each end of its body.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mythical serpent having a head at each end of its body, able to move in either direction.
  • n. A genus of lizards, native to the Americas, having extremities which are very similar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fabled serpent with a head at each end, moving either way.
  • n. A genus of harmless lizards, serpentlike in form, without legs, and with both ends so much alike that they appear to have a head at each, and ability to move either way. See Illustration in Appendix.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A fabulous venomous serpent supposed to have a head at each end and to be able to move in either direction.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] A genus of lizards distinguished by the obtuseness of the head and tail, typical of the family Amphisbænidæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (classical mythology) a serpent with a head at each end of its body
  • n. type genus of the Amphisbaenidae

Etymologies

Middle English amphibena, from Latin amphisbaena, from Greek amphisbaina : amphis, both ways (from amphi-, amphi-) + bainein, to go.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin amphisbaena, from Ancient Greek ἀμφίσβαινα, from ἀμφίς ‘both ways’ + βαίνω ‘I go’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • JM reckons an amphisbaena wouldn't know if it's coming or going.

    October 26, 2010

  • I dunno. Maybe we should ask oroboros.

    January 12, 2009

  • But if it has a head at the tail, doesn't that mean it hasn't a tail?

    January 12, 2009


  • AMPHISBAENA: a serpent with two heads, one in front and one at the tail. Thus it is able to slither in either direction with equal ease. Its eyes shine like lamps.

    January 12, 2009

  • "'In an early bestiary,' said Stephen after a long pause, 'an antiquarian of my acquaintance once showed me a picture of an amphisbaena, a serpent with a head at each end. I forget its moral significance but I do remember its form...'"
    —P. O'Brian, The Hundred Days, 131

    March 25, 2008