[bas-uh-lisk, baz-]
Classical Mythology. a creature, variously described as a serpent, lizard, or dragon, said to kill by its breath or look.
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.

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

basiliscine [bas-uh-lis-in, -ahyn, baz-] , basiliscan, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
basilisk (ˈbæzɪˌlɪsk)
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]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from L. basiliscus, from Gk. basiliskos "little king," dim. 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]
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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Basilisk definition

(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 Britannica


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

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
From the moment she spoke, her eye drew his with the power of a basilisk.
Using secrets learned from the basilisk lizard, scientists have designed a robot that can walk on water.
If a basilisk lizard sees a predator, it drops from its tree to the water.
It was a sort of basilisk, lived in the bush and was immortal.
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