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.

1620–30, Americanism; rattle1 + snake

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World English Dictionary
rattlesnake (ˈrætəlˌsneɪk)
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

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Example sentences
Its only excitement was an annual rattlesnake round-up.
But several of them were active in the sluggish rattlesnake fashion.
It seems possible that the mouth was opened wide and stabbing blows delivered,
  almost as a rattlesnake strikes with raised fangs.
And other snakes are set to join the ranks of the sequenced, including the
  garter snake, the rattlesnake and the king cobra.
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