Definitions

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

  • n. A legendary serpent or dragon with lethal breath and glance.
  • n. Any of various tropical American lizards of the genus Basiliscus, characterized by a crest on the head, back, and tail and the ability to run on the hind legs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mythical (and heraldic) snake-like dragon type, reputed to be so venomous that its gaze was deadly.
  • n. In heraldry, a type of dragon
  • n. A treedwelling type of lizard, of genus Basiliscus.
  • n. A type of large brass cannon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fabulous serpent, or dragon. The ancients alleged that its hissing would drive away all other serpents, and that its breath, and even its look, was fatal. See cockatrice.
  • n. A lizard of the genus Basiliscus, belonging to the family Iguanidæ.
  • n. A large piece of ordnance, so called from its supposed resemblance to the serpent of that name, or from its size.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A fabulous creature formerly believed to exist, variously regarded as a kind of serpent, lizard, or dragon, and sometimes identified with the cockatrice.
  • n. In herpetology, a lizard of the old genus Basiliscus (which see) in the widest sense.
  • n. In ornithology, the golden-crested wren or kinglet. See basiliscus, 2.
  • n. A large piece of ordnance: so called from its destructive power.
  • Pertaining to or characteristic of the basilisk: as, a basilisk eye or look (a sharp, penetrating,malignant eye or look, like that attributed to the basilisk).

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

  • n. ancient brass cannon
  • n. small crested arboreal lizard able to run on its hind legs; of tropical America
  • n. (classical mythology) a serpent (or lizard or dragon) able to kill with its breath or glance

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French basilisc, from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos, diminutive of basileus, king.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French basilique, from Latin basiliscus, from Ancient Greek βασιλίσκος (basiliskos, "royal, imperial"), from βασιλεύς (basileus, "king"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The basilisk is the enemy of the yale, and if it finds the yale asleep it stings it between the eyes, causing its eyes to swell until they burst.

    Don't stop thinking about WMAM

  • There was the completion of the circle: the basilisk was a small lizard, but its glance could stun or kill other creatures.

    Robot Adept

  • As he spoke he realized something that had not quite surfaced before: the basilisk was a magical creature that could do magic.

    A Spell For Chameleon

  • The basilisk is a fabulous conglomerate, a winged animal formed with the three-crested head of a cock and the body of a lizardlike serpent with a three-pointed tail.

    A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art

  • Her eye was like that of the fabled serpent, called the basilisk, and in her anger she ever struck terror.

    Roger Trewinion

  • Nowadays, the poet would call a basilisk bonny rather than miss his alliteration.

    Without Prejudice

  • The basilisk was the Phoenix of the serpent-tribe; and the vase or urn was probably the vessel, shaped like a cucumber, with a projecting spout, out of which, on the monuments of Egypt, the priests are represented pouring streams of the _cruz ansata_ or Tau Cross, and of _sceptres_, over the kings.

    Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

  • And the serpent or asp, a sign of kingly dominion, -- hence called basilisk, -- is sacred to Kneph.

    Ten Great Religions An Essay in Comparative Theology

  • The group of animals known as basilisk lizards commonly lives along the edge of rivers running through rainforests, eating small insects among the foliage.

    BBC (UK) Homepage main promotional content

  • She wears the Kepersh, or war-helmet worn by the Pharaohs in battle, with the golden "uræus," or so-called "basilisk" on the brow.

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers

Comments

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  • Railroad telegraphers' shorthand for "What is to be done with the balance? --US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906.

    January 20, 2013

  • Latin name: Regulus
    Other names: Baselicoc, Basiliscus, Cocatris, Cockatrice, Kokatris, Sibilus

    Its odor, voice and even look can kill.

    The basilisk is usually described as a crested snake, and sometimes as a cock with a snake's tail. It is called the king (regulus) of the serpents because its Greek name basiliscus means "little king"; its odor is said to kill snakes. Fire coming from the basilisk's mouth kills birds, and its glance will kill a man. It can kill by hissing, which is why it is also called the sibilus. Like the scorpion it likes dry places; its bite causes the victim to become hydrophobic. A basilisk is hatched from a cock's egg, a rare occurence. Only the weasel can kill a basilisk.

    October 12, 2008

  • "I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall;
    I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk;
    I'll play the orator as well as Nestor,
    Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could,
    And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
    I can add colours to the chameleon,
    Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
    And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
    Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
    Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down."
    —Richard of Gloucester, Act III, sc. ii
    Shakespeare's "Richard Duke of York" (a.k.a. "Henry VI, Part 3")

    February 13, 2007