Definitions

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

  • n. A reptile of the order Serpentes; a snake.
  • n. In the Bible, the creature that tempted Eve.
  • n. Satan.
  • n. A subtle, sly, or treacherous person.
  • n. A firework that writhes while burning.
  • n. Music A deep-voiced wind instrument of serpentine shape, used principally from the 17th to 19th century, about 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length and made of brass or wood.
  • n. Serpens.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A snake.
  • n. An obsolete wind instrument in the brass family, whose shape is suggestive of a snake (Wikipedia article).
  • v. To wind; to encircle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any reptile of the order Ophidia; a snake, especially a large snake. See Illust. under ophidia.
  • n. Fig.: A subtle, treacherous, malicious person.
  • n. A species of firework having a serpentine motion as it passess through the air or along the ground.
  • n. The constellation Serpens.
  • n. 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.
  • intransitive v. To wind like a serpent; to crook about; to meander.
  • transitive v. To wind; to encircle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Crawling on the belly, as a snake, or reptant, as an ophidian; of or pertaining to the Serpentia: correlated with salient and gradient.
  • Having the form or nature of a serpent; of a kind similar to that which a serpent has or might have.
  • Serpentine; winding; tortuous.
  • n. 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).
  • n. [capitalized] In astronomy, a constellation in the northern hemisphere. See Ophiuchus.
  • n. 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.
  • n. In organ-building, a reed-stop similar to the trombone.
  • n. Figuratively, a person who in looks or ways suggests a serpent; a wily, treacherous person; rarely, a fatally fascinating person.
  • n. A kind of firework which burns with a zigzag, serpentine motion or light.
  • n. In firearms, same as serpentin.
  • To wind along like a snake, as a river; take or have a serpentine course; meander.
  • To entwine; girdle as with the coils of a serpent.

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

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin serpēns, serpent-, from present participle of serpere, to creep.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin Latin serpens ("snake"), from the verb serpo ("to creep"), from Proto-Indo-European *serp-. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As Eve gave her confidence to the serpent, she lost confidence in God, and went on to believe that when _God_ had said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," and the _serpent_ said, "Ye shall not surely die," it was the serpent that spoke the truth.

    Twilight and Dawn Simple Talks on the Six Days of Creation

  • Practitioners, or self-described sign-followers, prefer the term serpent-handling to snake-handling noting that they incorporate poisonous reptiles not common snakes into religious worship.

    Snake Handlers Hang On in Appalachian Churches

  • In the Lewis they call the serpent _righinn_, that is, '_a princess; _' and they say that the serpent is a princess bewitched.

    Macleod of Dare

  • The image here comes from Norse mythology, in which the Midgard serpent is “of such an enormous size that holding his tail in his mouth he encircles the whole earth” (Bulfinch [1855] 2003: 333).

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • The serpent is an exaggeration of the python which grows to an enormous size.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Glen Kubans 'look at the Zuiyo Maru "sea serpent" is also a good and relevant read.

    Cadborosaurus

  • The Muslims also say that only a very few parts of the New Testament Injil or Gospels can be trusted and the Apostle Paul whom they call a serpent is form Satan and not from God.

    Is that Jerry Falwell Calling for the Carpet Bombing Of Gaza?

  • In Act One, the serpent is talking to Eve: You see things, and say why-always why?

    Why Not?

  • The word serpent, or viper, is used to denote both cunning and malignancy.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • In many of the tales the monster, who is sometimes described as a serpent, inhabits the water of a sea, a lake, or a fountain.

    Chapter 12. The Sacred Marriage. § 2. The Marriage of the Gods

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  • 'As there seemed to be no chance of getting her hands up to her head, she tried to get her head down to them, and was delighted to find that her neck would bend about easily in any direction, like a serpent. She had just succeeded in curving it down into a graceful zigzag, and was going to dive in among the leaves, which she found to be nothing but the tops of the trees under which she had been wandering, when a sharp hiss made her draw back in a hurry: a large pigeon had flown into her face, and was beating her violently with its wings.

    "Serpent!" screamed the Pigeon.

    "I'm not a serpent!" said Alice indignantly. "Let me alone!"

    "Serpent, I say again!" repeated the Pigeon, but in a more subdued tone, and added with a kind of sob, "I've tried every way, and nothing seems to suit them!"

    "I haven't the least idea what you're talking about," said Alice.'

    July 18, 2008