1. Zool. Any reptile of the order Ophidia; a snake, especially a large snake. See Illust. under Ophidia.
Note: ☞ The serpents are mostly long and slender, and move partly by bending the body into undulations or folds and pressing them against objects, and partly by using the free edges of their ventral scales to cling to rough surfaces. Many species glide swiftly over the ground, some burrow in the earth, others live in trees. A few are entirely aquatic, and swim rapidly. See Ophidia, and Fang.
2. Fig.: A subtle, treacherous, malicious person.
3. A species of firework having a serpentine motion as it passess through the air or along the ground.
4. Astron. The constellation Serpens.
5. 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.
Pharaoh's serpent 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.
Serpent cucumber Bot., the long, slender, serpentine fruit of the cucurbitaceous plant Trichosanthes colubrina; also, the plant itself.
Serpent eage Zool., any one of several species of raptorial birds of the genera Circaetus and Spilornis, which prey on serpents. They inhabit Africa, Southern Europe, and India. The European serpent eagle is Circaetus Gallicus.
Serpent eater. Zool. (a) The secretary bird. (b) An Asiatic antelope; the markhoor.
Serpent fish Zool., a fish (Cepola rubescens) with a long, thin, compressed body, and a band of red running lengthwise.
Serpent star Zool., an ophiuran; a brittle star.
Serpent's tongue Paleon., the fossil tooth of a shark; -- so called from its resemblance to a tongue with its root.
Serpent withe Bot., a West Indian climbing plant (Aristolochia odoratissima).
Tree serpent Zool., any species of African serpents belonging to the family Dendrophidae.
Ser·pent, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Serpented; p. pr. & vb. n. Serpenting.] To wind like a serpent; to crook about; to meander. [R.] “The serpenting of the Thames.”
Ser·pent, v. t. To wind; to encircle. [R.]
n 1: limbless scaly elongate reptile; some are venomous [syn: snake,
2: a firework that moves in serpentine manner when ignited
3: an obsolete bass cornet; resembles a snake
(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More
than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous
character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on
Dan (Gen. 49:17; see Prov. 30:18, 19; James 3:7; Jer. 8:17).
This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious
enemy (Luke 10:19).
The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history
of the temptation and fall of our first parents (Gen. 3). It has
been well remarked regarding this temptation: "A real serpent
was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said
of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse
of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the
animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that
he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1)
from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may
be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has
not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here
displayed. (2.) In the New Testament it is both directly
asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our
first parents into sin (John 8:44; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14;
Rev. 12:9; 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.