Other forms: serpents

A serpent is a snake. If you keep a serpent as a pet, you may have to get used to feeding it live mice.

While you're probably more likely to use the word snake for this slithery reptile, serpent tends to be the word that shows up in folk tales and mythology. Serpents have represented qualities ranging from evil to fertility to poison throughout history, and even today the symbol of medicine is a staff entwined by a serpent. The Latin root is serpentem, "creeping thing," from serpere, "to creep."

Definitions of serpent
  1. noun
    limbless scaly elongate reptile; some are venomous
    synonyms: ophidian, snake
    see moresee less
    show 50 types...
    hide 50 types...
    colubrid, colubrid snake
    mostly harmless temperate-to-tropical terrestrial or arboreal or aquatic snakes
    blind snake, worm snake
    wormlike burrowing snake of warm regions having vestigial eyes
    any of various large nonvenomous snakes that kill their prey by crushing it in its coils
    elapid, elapid snake
    any of numerous venomous fanged snakes of warmer parts of both hemispheres
    sea snake
    any of numerous venomous aquatic viviparous snakes having a fin-like tail; of warm littoral seas; feed on fish which they immobilize with quick-acting venom
    venomous Old World snakes characterized by hollow venom-conducting fangs in the upper jaw
    hoop snake
    any of various harmless North American snakes that were formerly believed to take tail in mouth and roll along like a hoop
    Carphophis amoenus, thunder snake, worm snake
    small reddish wormlike snake of eastern United States
    ring snake, ring-necked snake, ringneck snake
    any of numerous small nonvenomous North American snakes with a yellow or orange ring around the neck
    hognose snake, puff adder, sand viper
    harmless North American snake with upturned nose; may spread its head and neck or play dead when disturbed
    leaf-nosed snake
    any of various pale blotched snakes with a blunt snout of southwestern North America
    grass snake, green snake
    either of two North American chiefly insectivorous snakes that are green in color
    green snake
    any of numerous African colubrid snakes
    slender fast-moving North American snakes
    whip snake, whip-snake, whipsnake
    any of several small fast-moving snakes with long whiplike tails
    rat snake
    any of various nonvenomous rodent-eating snakes of North America and Asia
    Arizona elegans, glossy snake
    nocturnal burrowing snake of western United States with shiny tan scales
    bull snake, bull-snake
    any of several large harmless rodent-eating North American burrowing snakes
    king snake, kingsnake
    any of numerous nonvenomous North American constrictors; feed on other snakes and small mammals
    garter snake, grass snake
    any of numerous nonvenomous longitudinally-striped viviparous North American and Central American snakes
    Tropidoclonion lineatum, lined snake
    secretive snake of city dumps and parks as well as prairies and open woods; feeds on earthworms; of central United States
    Sonora semiannulata, ground snake
    small shy brightly-ringed terrestrial snake of arid or semiarid areas of western North America
    Haldea striatula, Potamophis striatula, eastern ground snake
    in some classifications placed in genus Haldea; small reddish-grey snake of eastern North America
    water snake
    any of various mostly harmless snakes that live in or near water
    Storeria occipitamaculata, red-bellied snake
    harmless woodland snake of southeastern United States
    sand snake
    small North American burrowing snake
    black-headed snake
    small secretive ground-living snake; found from central United States to Argentina
    vine snake
    slender arboreal snake found from southern Arizona to Bolivia
    lyre snake
    mildly venomous snake with a lyre-shaped mark on the head; found in rocky areas from southwestern United States to Central America
    Hypsiglena torquata, night snake
    nocturnal prowler of western United States and Mexico
    Leptotyphlops humilis, western blind snake
    burrows among roots of shrubs and beneath rocks in desert and rocky hillside areas and beach sand of western United States
    Drymarchon corais, gopher snake, indigo snake
    large dark-blue nonvenomous snake that invades burrows; found in southern North America and Mexico
    any of several chiefly tropical constrictors with vestigial hind limbs
    New World coral snake, coral snake, harlequin-snake
    any of several venomous New World snakes brilliantly banded in red and black and either yellow or white; widely distributed in South America and Central America
    Old World coral snake, coral snake
    any of various venomous elapid snakes of Asia and Africa and Australia
    Denisonia superba, copperhead
    venomous but sluggish reddish-brown snake of Australia
    venomous Asiatic and African elapid snakes that can expand the skin of the neck into a hood
    Hemachatus haemachatus, ringhals, rinkhals, spitting snake
    highly venomous snake of southern Africa able to spit venom up to seven feet
    arboreal snake of central and southern Africa whose bite is often fatal
    Acanthophis antarcticus, death adder
    venomous Australian snake resembling an adder
    Notechis scutatus, tiger snake
    highly venomous brown-and-yellow snake of Australia and Tasmania
    Australian blacksnake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
    large semiaquatic snake of Australia; black above with red belly
    brightly colored venomous but nonaggressive snake of southeastern Asia and Malay peninsula
    Oxyuranus scutellatus, taipan
    large highly venomous snake of northeastern Australia
    Vipera berus, adder, common viper
    small terrestrial viper common in northern Eurasia
    Vipera aspis, asp, asp viper
    of southern Europe; similar to but smaller than the adder
    Bitis arietans, puff adder
    large African viper that inflates its body when alarmed
    Bitis gabonica, gaboon viper
    large heavy-bodied brilliantly marked and extremely venomous west African viper
    Cerastes cornutus, cerastes, horned asp, horned viper, sand viper
    highly venomous viper of northern Africa and southwestern Asia having a horny spine above each eye
    pit viper
    New World vipers with hollow fangs and a heat-sensitive pit on each side of the head
    type of:
    diapsid, diapsid reptile
    reptile having a pair of openings in the skull behind each eye
  2. noun
    a firework that moves in serpentine manner when ignited
    see moresee less
    type of:
    firework, pyrotechnic
    (usually plural) a device with an explosive that burns at a low rate and with colored flames; can be used to illuminate areas or send signals etc.
  3. noun
    an obsolete bass cornet; resembles a snake
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cornet, horn, trump, trumpet
    a brass musical instrument with a brilliant tone; has a narrow tube and a flared bell and is played by means of valves




Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

A paragraph of text

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘serpent'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up serpent for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer