|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|
|[C14: from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos royal child, from basileus king]|
"The basilisk has since the fourteenth century been confused with the Cockatrice, and the subject is now a complicated one." [T.H.White]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 large cannon, throwing shot of 200 lb., in 1549.
(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.)
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.