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Ser"pent, n. Etym: [f., fr. L. serpens, -entis (sc. bestia), fr. Serpens, p. pr. of serpere to creep; akin to gr. sarp, and perhaps to L. repere, e. reptile. Cf. Herpes.]

1. (zoöl.)

Defn: any reptile of the order ophidia; a snake, especially a large Snake. See illust. under ophidia.

Note: the serpents are mostly long and slender, and move partly by Bending the body into undulations or folds and pressing them against Objects, and partly by using the free edges of their ventral scales To cling to rough surfaces. Many species glide swiftly over the Ground, some burrow in the earth, others live in trees. A few are Entirely aquatic, and swim rapidly. See ophidia, and fang.

2. Fig.: A subtle, treacherous, malicious person.

3. A species of firework having a serpentine motion as it passess Through the air or along the ground.

4. (astron.)

Defn: the constellation serpens.

5. (mus.)

Defn: a bass wind instrument, of a loud and coarse tone, formerly Much used in military bands, and sometimes introduced into the Orchestra; -- so called from its form. Pharaoh's serpent (chem.), Mercuric sulphocyanate, a combustible white substance which in Burning gives off a poisonous vapor and leaves a peculiar brown Voluminous residue which is expelled in a serpentine from. It is Employed as a scientific toy.

-- serpent cucumber (bot.), the long, slender, serpentine fruit of

The cucurbitaceous plant trichosanthes colubrina; also, the plant Itself.

-- serpent eage (zoöl.), any one of several species of raptorial

Birds of the genera circaëtus and spilornis, which prey on serpents. They inhabit africa, southern europe, and india. The european serpent Eagle is circaëtus gallicus.

-- serpent eater. (zoöl.) (a) the secretary bird. (b) an asiatic

Antelope; the markhoor.

-- serpent fish (zoöl.), a fish (cepola rubescens) with a long,

Thin, compressed body, and a band of red running lengthwise.

-- serpent star (zoöl.), an ophiuran; a brittle star.
-- serpent's tongue (paleon.), the fossil tooth of a shark; -- so

Called from its resemblance to a tongue with its root.

-- serpent withe (bot.), a west indian climbing plant (aristolochia


-- tree serpent (zoöl.), any species of african serpents belonging

To the family dendrophidæ.

Serpent Ser"pent, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Serpented; p. pr. & vb. n. Serpenting.]

Defn: to wind like a serpent; to crook about; to meander. [r.] "the Serpenting of the thames." Evelyn.

Serpent Ser"pent, v. t.

Defn: to wind; to encircle. [r.] Evelyn.

---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Serpent - (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 (Genesis 49:17; see Proverbs 30:18, Proverbs 30:19; James 3:7; Jeremiah 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 (Genesis 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; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 2 Corinthians 11:14; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.


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