Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Zoology A snake.
  • noun In the Bible, the creature that tempted Eve, identified in Christian tradition with Satan.
  • noun A subtle, sly, or treacherous person.
  • noun A firework that writhes while burning.
  • noun Music A deep-voiced wind instrument of serpentine shape, used principally from the 1600s to the 1800s, about 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length and made of brass or wood.
  • noun Serpens.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • noun 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).
  • noun [capitalized] In astronomy, a constellation in the northern hemisphere. See Ophiuchus.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In organ-building, a reed-stop similar to the trombone.
  • noun Figuratively, a person who in looks or ways suggests a serpent; a wily, treacherous person; rarely, a fatally fascinating person.
  • noun A kind of firework which burns with a zigzag, serpentine motion or light.
  • noun In firearms, same as serpentin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb rare To wind; to encircle.
  • intransitive verb rare To wind like a serpent; to crook about; to meander.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any reptile of the order Ophidia; a snake, especially a large snake. See Illust. under ophidia.
  • noun Fig.: A subtle, treacherous, malicious person.
  • noun A species of firework having a serpentine motion as it passess through the air or along the ground.
  • noun (Astron.) The constellation Serpens.
  • noun (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.
  • noun (Chem.) mercuric sulphocyanate, a combustible white substance which in burning gives off a poisonous vapor and leaves a peculiar brown voluminous residue which is expelled in a serpentine from. It is employed as a scientific toy.
  • noun (Bot.) the long, slender, serpentine fruit of the cucurbitaceous plant Trichosanthes colubrina; also, the plant itself.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any one of several species of raptorial birds of the genera Circaëtus and Spilornis, which prey on serpents. They inhabit Africa, Southern Europe, and India. The European serpent eagle is Circaëtus Gallicus.
  • noun (Zoöl.) An Asiatic antelope; the markhoor.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a fish (Cepola rubescens) with a long, thin, compressed body, and a band of red running lengthwise.
  • noun (Zoöl.) an ophiuran; a brittle star.
  • noun (Paleon.) the fossil tooth of a shark; -- so called from its resemblance to a tongue with its root.
  • noun (Bot.) a West Indian climbing plant (Aristolochia odoratissima).
  • noun (Zoöl.) any species of African serpents belonging to the family Dendrophidæ.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin serpēns, serpent-, from present participle of serpere, to creep.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin Latin serpens ("snake"), from the verb serpo ("to creep"), from Proto-Indo-European *serp-.

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 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).

    The Vivisection of Bone, Part 2: Mytho-Bone-esis

  • 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

Comments

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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