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basilisk

[bas-uh-lisk, baz-] /ˈbæs ə lɪsk, ˈbæz-/
noun
1.
Classical Mythology. a creature, variously described as a serpent, lizard, or dragon, said to kill by its breath or look.
2.
any of several tropical American iguanid lizards of the genus Basiliscus, noted for their ability to run across the surface of water on their hind legs.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin basiliscus < Greek basilískos princeling, basilisk, equivalent to basil(eús) king + -iskos diminutive suffix; allegedly so named from a crownlike white spot on its head
Related forms
basiliscine
[bas-uh-lis-in, -ahyn, baz-] /ˌbæs əˈlɪs ɪn, -aɪn, ˌbæz-/ (Show IPA),
basiliscan, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for basiliscan

basilisk

/ˈbæzɪˌlɪsk/
noun
1.
(in classical legend) a serpent that could kill by its breath or glance
2.
any small arboreal semiaquatic lizard of the genus Basiliscus of tropical America: family Iguanidae (iguanas). The males have an inflatable head crest, used in display
3.
a 16th-century medium cannon, usually made of brass
Word Origin
C14: from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos royal child, from basileus king
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for basiliscan

basilisk

n.

c.1300, from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos "little king," diminutive of basileus "king" (see Basil); said by Pliny to have been so called because of a crest or spot on its head resembling a crown.

The basilisk has since the fourteenth century been confused with the Cockatrice, and the subject is now a complicated one. [T.H. White, "The Bestiary. A Book of Beasts," 1954]
Its breath and glance were said to be fatal. The South American lizard so called (1813) because it, like the mythical beast, has a crest. Also used of a type of large cannon, throwing shot of 200 lb., from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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basiliscan in the Bible

(in R.V., Isa. 11:8; 14:29; 59:5; Jer. 8:17), the "king serpent," as the name imports; a fabulous serpent said to be three spans long, with a spot on its head like a crown. Probably the yellow snake is intended. (See COCKATRICE.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for basiliscan

basilisk

any of four species of forest lizards of tropical North and South America belonging to the family Iguanidae. The name is applied because of a resemblance to the legendary monster called basilisk (see cockatrice). The body is slender and compressed from side to side, the tail is long and whiplike, and the rear of the head is extended into a flat lobe like a cock's comb. Males have a crest along the back, and this crest runs the length of the body in two species

Learn more about basilisk with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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