American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A herald's wand or staff, especially in ancient times.
- n. Greek Mythology A winged staff with two serpents twined around it, carried by Hermes.
- n. An insignia modeled on Hermes's staff and used as the symbol of the medical profession.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In classical mythology, the rod or wand borne by Hermes, or Mercury, as an ensign of authority, quality, and office. It was originally merely the Greek herald's staff, a plain rod entwined with fillets of wool. Later the fillets were changed to serpents; and in the conventional representations familiar at the present day the caduceus is often winged. The caduceus is a symbol of peace and prosperity, and in modern times figures as a symbol of commerce, Mercury being the god of commerce. The rod represents power; the serpents represent wisdom; and the two wings, diligence and activity. In heraldry it is blazoned as a staff having two serpents annodated about it, mutually respectant, and joined at the tails; it is a rare bearing.
- n. The official wand carried by a herald in ancient Greece and Rome, specifically the one carried in mythology by Hermes, the messenger of the gods, usually represented with two snakes twined around it.
- n. A symbol (☤) representing a staff with two snakes wrapped around it, used to indicate merchants and messengers, and also sometimes as a symbol of medicine.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Myth.) The official staff or wand of Hermes or Mercury, the messenger of the gods. It was originally said to be a herald's staff of olive wood, but was afterwards fabled to have two serpents coiled about it, and two wings at the top.
- n. an insignia used by the medical profession; modeled after the staff of Hermes
- Via Latin cādūceus, cādūceum, adaptation of Doric Ancient Greek καρύκειον (karukeion, "herald’s wand or staff"). This and Attic Greek κηρύκειον (kērukeion) are derived from κῆρυξ (kērux, "herald, public messenger"). Related to κηρύσσω (kērussō, "I announce"). (Wiktionary)
- Latin cādūceus, alteration of Greek dialectal kārūkeion, from kārūx, herald. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Except when incorporated as part of the cap device, the corps device shall be so place on the uniform that the staff of the caduceus is vertical and the anchor is pointing inward.”
“Except when incorporated as part of the cap device, the corps device shall be so placed on the uniform that the staff of the caduceus is vertical and the anchor is pointing inward.”
“The caduceus was a symbol of healing, and the card spoke to her of alliances, of a balanced partnership.”
“It was an array of clocks containing mercury ions, and the caduceus is a symbol of the god Mercury!”
“In astronomy, the caduceus is a symbol for the planet Mercury.”
“And in Whittaker Chambers 'face he raises his caduceus, which is the great imperial staff, and he says, "Tell me what one wish you desire.”
“The bars represent lines of print on a page, and the caduceus was the winged wand entwined with serpents carried by Mercury, the messenger of the gods.”
“In historical times the caduceus was the attribute of Hermes as the god of commerce and peace, and among the Greeks it was the distinctive mark of heralds and ambassadors, whose persons it rendered inviolable.”
“A caduceus is the twisting-snakes symbol that you usually see at hospitals and doctors’ offices.”
“The staff with two snakes, chosen by the American Medical Association as an emblem, is actually the wand of Hermes, called a caduceus, which he used to conduct the dead to Hades. ”
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