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serpent

[sur-puh nt] /ˈsɜr pənt/
noun
1.
a snake.
2.
a wily, treacherous, or malicious person.
3.
the Devil; Satan. Gen. 3:1–5.
4.
a firework that burns with serpentine motion or flame.
5.
an obsolete wooden wind instrument with a serpentine shape and a deep, coarse tone.
Compare ophicleide.
6.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Serpens.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin serpent-, stem of serpēns; see Serpens
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for serpent
  • The giant red machine is named after the serpent, one of the few known to thrive in the open sea.
  • He plays the tape of the serpent's gurgles and snorts.
  • The serpent touched the friendly tusks of the elephant.
  • But surely the mouths are peculiarly observed, or both the mountain range and the serpent are upside down.
  • The kids may see snakes while you see something else serpent-shaped.
  • As he lies sleeping on a giant serpent in the primordial ocean, a lotus flower sprouts from his navel.
  • Churches that practice serpent handling tend to be wary of publicity.
  • Incredibly, twice a year on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls on the pyramid in the shape of a serpent.
  • The sun sets in alignment with the serpent's head on the summer solstice.
  • The eagle of liberty strangling the serpent of corruption.
British Dictionary definitions for serpent

serpent

/ˈsɜːpənt/
noun
1.
a literary or dialect word for snake
2.
(Old Testament) a manifestation of Satan as a guileful tempter (Genesis 3:1–5)
3.
a sly, deceitful, or unscrupulous person
4.
an obsolete wind instrument resembling a snake in shape, the bass form of the cornett
5.
a firework that moves about with a serpentine motion when ignited
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin serpēns a creeping thing, from serpere to creep; related to Greek herpein to crawl
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 serpent
n.

c.1300, "limbless reptile," also the tempter in Gen. iii:1-5, from Old French serpent, sarpent "snake, serpent" (12c.), from Latin serpentem (nominative serpens) "snake; creeping thing," also the name of a constellation, from present participle of serpere "to creep," from PIE *serp- "to crawl, creep" (cf. Sanskrit sarpati "creeps," sarpah "serpent;" Greek herpein "to creep," herpeton "serpent;" Albanian garper "serpent").

Used figuratively to express spiral or regularly sinuous, e.g. as the word for a type of musical instrument (1730). Serpent's tongue as figurative of venomous or stinging speech is from mistaken medieval notion that the serpent's tongue was its "sting." Serpent's tongue also was a name given to fossil shark's teeth (c.1600).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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serpent in Culture

serpent definition


The creature in the Book of Genesis that tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, thus committing the first act of the Fall of Man. In the New Testament, the serpent of Genesis is identified with Satan.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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serpent in the Bible

(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on Dan (Gen. 49:17; see Prov. 30:18, 19; James 3:7; Jer. 8:17). (See ADDER.) This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy (Luke 10:19). The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history of the temptation and fall of our first parents (Gen. 3). It has been well remarked regarding this temptation: "A real serpent was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1) from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here displayed. (2.) In the New Testament it is both directly asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our first parents into sin (John 8:44; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14; Rev. 12:9; 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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