vi·per / ˈvīpər/ •
n. a venomous snake (family Viperidae) with large hinged fangs, typically having a broad head and stout body, with dark patterns on a lighter background. ∎ a spiteful or treacherous person.DERIVATIVES: vi·per·ine / ˈvīpəˌrīn; -rin/ adj.vi·per·ish adj.vi·per·ous / ˈvīp(ə)rəs/ adj.
a venomous snake, taken as the type of malignancy and treachery, but whose flesh was formerly believed to have great nutritive or restorative properties, and was used medicinally. Early allusive references include some to the statement in Pliny's Natural History
that the female viper was killed by her young eating their way out at birth.
Recorded from the early 16th century, the word comes ultimately from Latin vivus
‘alive’ + parere
viper in one's bosom a person who betrays those who have helped them; from the fable (found in Aesop
) of the viper which was reared or warmed in a person's bosom, and which ended by biting its nurturer.
Any of 150 species of poisonous snakes
characterized by a pair of long, hollow, venom-injecting fangs in the front of the upper jaw. The fangs can be folded back when not in use. The common adder (Vipera berus) of Europe
Asia has a dark, zigzag band along its back. Length: to 3m (10ft). Family Viperidae.
Viper ★ 1988
A woman battles a cryptic anti-terrorist band to avenge the murder of her husband. 96m/C VHS . Linda Purl, Chris Robinson, James Tolkan; D: Peter Maris.