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[rat-l-sneyk] /ˈræt lˌsneɪk/
any of several New World pit vipers of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, having a rattle composed of a series of horny, interlocking elements at the end of the tail.
Origin of rattlesnake
1620-30, Americanism; rattle1 + snake Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rattlesnake
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She seemed fascinated, as a woman might have been by the striking power of a rattlesnake.

  • He spoke as if the prisoner had been a rattlesnake or a sheep-stealing wolf.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • The venom of the rattlesnake so weakened you that you are not yourself.

    Two Boys in Wyoming Edward S. Ellis
  • It is a blessing that a rattlesnake has to coil before it can spring.

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • Suppose now our new recruit had run across a rattlesnake instead of a polecat!

    Endurance Test Alan Douglas
  • Once or twice she had to jump to escape the strike of a rattlesnake.

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
British Dictionary definitions for rattlesnake


any of the venomous New World snakes constituting the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, such as C. horridus (black or timber rattlesnake): family Crotalidae (pit vipers). They have a series of loose horny segments on the tail that are vibrated to produce a buzzing or whirring sound
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 rattlesnake

1620s, from rattle + snake (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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