"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults
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.
(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.)