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

  • noun Any of numerous scaly, legless, sometimes venomous squamate reptiles of the suborder Serpentes (or Ophidia), having a long, tapering, cylindrical body and flexible jaws.
  • noun A treacherous person.
  • noun A long, highly flexible metal wire or coil used for cleaning drains.
  • intransitive verb To drag or pull lengthwise, especially to drag with a rope or chain.
  • intransitive verb To pull with quick jerks.
  • intransitive verb To move in a sinuous or gliding manner.
  • intransitive verb To move with a sinuous motion.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To move or wind like a snake; serpentine; move spirally.
  • To drag or haul, especially by a chain or rope fastened around one end of the object. as a log; hence, to pull forcibly; jerk: used generally with out or along.
  • Nautical:
  • To pass small stuff across the outer turns of (a seizing) by way of finish.
  • To wind small stuff, as marline or spun-yarn, spirally round (a large rope) so that the spaces between the strands will be filled up; worm.
  • To fasten (backstays) together by small ropes stretched from one to the other, so that if one backstay is shot away in action it may not fall on deck.
  • noun A serpent; an ophidian; any member of the order Ophidia. See serpent and Qphidia.
  • noun Specifically, the common British serpent Coluber or Tropidonotus natrix, or Xatrix torquata, a harmless ophidian of the family Colubridæ: distinguished from the adder or viper, a poisonous serpent of the same country.
  • noun A lizard with rudimentary limbs or none, mistaken for a true snake: as, the Aberdeen snake (the blindworm or slow-worm); a glass-snake. See snake-lizard, and cuts under amphisbæna, blindworm, dart-snake, glass-snake, scheltopusik, and serpentiform.
  • noun A snake-like amphibian: as, the Congo snake, the North American Amphiuma means, a urodele amphibian. See Amphiuma.
  • noun A person having the character attributed to a snake; a treacherous person.
  • noun In the seventeenth century, a long curl attached to the wig behind.
  • noun The stem of a narghile.
  • noun See snake-box.
  • noun A form of receiving-instrument used in Wheat-stone's automatic telegraph.
  • noun Same as green-snake.
  • noun Same as garter-snake.
  • noun The harlequin snake.
  • noun See scarlet.

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

  • transitive verb Colloq. U.S. To drag or draw, as a snake from a hole; -- often with out.
  • transitive verb (Naut.) To wind round spirally, as a large rope with a smaller, or with cord, the small rope lying in the spaces between the strands of the large one; to worm.
  • intransitive verb To crawl like a snake.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any species of the order Ophidia; an ophidian; a serpent, whether harmless or venomous. See ophidia, and serpent.
  • noun etc. See under Blind, Garter, etc.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a large African snake (Python Sebæ) used by the natives as a fetich.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a common European columbrine snake (Tropidonotus natrix).
  • noun (Zoöl.) The secretary bird.
  • noun [U.S.] a worm fence (which see).
  • noun (Zoöl.) any one of several species of neuropterous insects of the genus Rhaphidia; -- so called because of their large head and elongated neck and prothorax.
  • noun (Bot.) a cucurbitaceous plant (Trichosanthes anguina) having the fruit shorter and less snakelike than that of the serpent cucumber.
  • noun (Zoöl.) The chaparral cock.
  • noun (Bot.) the common club moss (Lycopodium clavatum). See Lycopodium.
  • noun (Bot.) the fruit of a sapindaceous tree (Ophiocaryon paradoxum) of Guiana, the embryo of which resembles a snake coiled up.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any one of numerous species of colubrine snakes which habitually live in trees, especially those of the genus Dendrophis and allied genera.

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

  • noun A legless reptile of the sub-order Serpentes with a long, thin body and a fork-shaped tongue.
  • noun A treacherous person.
  • noun A tool for unclogging plumbing.


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

[Middle English, from Old English snaca.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English snāke, from Old English snaca ("snake, serpent, reptile"), from Proto-Germanic *snakô (compare dialectal German Schnake ("adder"), dialectal Low German Schnaak ("snake"), Swedish snok ("grass snake")), from *snakanan 'to crawl' (compare Old High German snahhan), from Proto-Indo-European *snag-, *sneg- 'to crawl; a creeping thing' (compare Sanskrit नाग (nāga, "snake")).


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  • Raccoons, one excessively stinky skunk in the southbound lane of US 1A (different section than last time), one garter snake, one eastern milk snake _or_ northern water snake*, various things not seen in the roadside grass but making their presence felt (or smelled).

    Sunday roadkill report jhetley 2005

  • The term snake oil is often used to describe cryptography that does not actually provide the level of security that its proponents claim.

    IT & Security Portal» IT-Observer 2009

  • Eventually this behavior became so widespread that the term snake oil became generalized to other products, ones that made claims of effectiveness that could not easily be substantiated by consumers and should thus be suspected of being false or misleading.

    IT & Security Portal» IT-Observer 2009

  • According to several web sites the snake is an Australian Olive Whipsnake, Demansia olivacea, and is rather venomous.

    Woodpecker vs. Snake 2010

  • According to several web sites the snake is an Australian Olive Whipsnake, Demansia olivacea, and is rather venomous.

    Woodpecker vs. Snake 2010

  • Not to be confused at all with its many nonpoisonous neighbors, this snake is a pit viper in the same general family as the Copperhead and the Rattler.

    Puff This! 2008

  • This snake is a role model to the bulimic community everywhere.

    EXTRALIFE – By Scott Johnson - Snake coughs up an entire hippo 2007

  • I think he is a dangerous friend — what I call a snake in the grass.

    He Knew He Was Right 2004

  • In the tale Mr. Get-Even Coyote the snake is allowed to destroy the coyote, who has a sad fate throughout all of the tales in which he figures because of his predatory habits.

    Taytay's Tales 1922

  • I think he is a dangerous friend -- what I call a snake in the grass.

    He Knew He Was Right Anthony Trollope 1848


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  • Here's an entertaining usage. (Caution: salty language.)

    August 12, 2009

  • "Why Ireland has no snakes," by a zoologist at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. (Not that we didn't already know this, but there's some other interesting information therein.)

    March 17, 2010

  • Or pagans ;-)

    March 17, 2010

  • Ireland has no snakes because St. Patrick banished them to Australia.

    March 18, 2010

  • I like this version. :)

    March 18, 2010

  • I think he banished all the Irish pubs too. You cannot walk the streets of an Australian town without being assaulted by a Dolly O'Reilly's, a Kitty O'Shea's or a Dan Murphy's.

    March 18, 2010

  • Come to think of it, I don't believe there are any snakes in the greater Boston area, either... *ponders*

    March 18, 2010

  • We don't have many snakes here. Am I in Ireland?

    March 18, 2010

  • Either there, or in the greater Boston area.

    March 19, 2010