Definitions

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

  • n. The figure of the sacred serpent, an emblem of sovereignty depicted on the headdress of ancient Egyptian rulers and deities.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A representation of the sacred asp, symbolising supreme power in ancient Egypt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A serpent, or serpent's head and neck, represented on the front of the headdresses of divinities and sovereigns as an emblem of supreme power.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The sacred serpent, either the head and neck, or sometimes the entire form, of a serpent, represented by the ancient Egyptians upon the head-dresses of divinities and royal personages, as an emblem of supreme power.

Etymologies

New Latin ūraeus, from Late Greek ouraios, cobra, perhaps alteration (influenced by Greek ouraios, of the tail) of Egyptian y'rt.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin uraeus, from Ancient Greek οὐραῖος (oúraĩos), from Egyptian (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Teta hath seen his body in the Semketet boat, he knoweth the uraeus which is in the M [= a] ntchet boat, and God hath called him in his name ... and hath taken him in to R [= a]. "

    Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life

  • Her chariot is drawn by three cobras, a symbol of magical transformation and sovereignty; appropriately, the uraeus, a crown worn in ancient Egypt, takes its form from the cobra.

    Goddess painting of the day: Sekhmet, a detail | the blog of author, illustrator and designer Kris Waldherr

  • His colleagues did not care for his despondent company, which made him suffer more, which perpetuated their distance, and his disdain: his uraeus, the snake biting its own tail, the self-perpetuating, unbroken circle.

    The Art Thief

  • Most striking is a seated granite figure -- one of two female depictions from her innovative, monumental mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri in Thebes -- in a shapely sheath, with only headdress and uraeus (serpent emblem) revealing her royal identity.

    Museums: The Female Pharaoh

  • Between and behind these sit lion-headed statues closely ranged, and on either side of the gateway looks down the solemn majesty of the great lion-headed Sekhet, with her uraeus crown, and the pleasant face of the Egyptian king whom envy has robbed of his name.

    That Air of Expectation, Still and Assured

  • ‘May you make these names complete and may they guide you along the path to victory,’ proclaimed the queen, placing the White Crown with its uraeus upon the head of her son.

    The War of the Crowns

  • This group, five statues and a glass intaglio from a ring, show her wearing a triple uraeus -- three rearing cobras, perhaps representing Upper and Lower Egypt and her Asian and Cypriot foreign possessions.

    Museums: Face Time with Cleopatra

  • Heseret rode beside Naja, glittering with jewels and wearing the golden uraeus on her high-piled curls.

    Warlock

  • On top of them he wore the uraeus, the circlet of gold depicting Nekhbet, the vulture goddess, and Naja, the cobra.

    Warlock

  • Incongruously he wore the golden uraeus, the vulture and cobra crown, over his dense silver-shot curls.

    Warlock

Comments

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  • (n): a representation of the sacred asp (Naja haje) appearing in ancient Egyptian art and especially on the headdress of rulers and serving as a symbol of sovereignty
    Typically shown along with a solar disk on the headdress of the half lioness, half-human goddess Sekhmet

    January 21, 2008