Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
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.)
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