serpent

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a serpent in (one's) bosom

Someone whom one has befriended, taken care of, or treated well but proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. (A less common variant of "a viper in one's bosom." Used especially in the phrase "nourish/nurse/nurture a serpent in one's bosom.") Well, it turns out that Margaret was quite a serpent in my bosom. I put my neck on the line to get her a job in our company, and then she turns around and tries to get me fired! I thought our love was not only mutual but indestructible; and yet, I have nursed a serpent in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, serpent

nurse a serpent in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. (A less common variant of "nurse a viper in one's bosom.") I thought the profligate had seen the light and was seeking redemption, and so I took him into my care. But before long, I knew I had nursed a serpent in my bosom, as I awoke one morning to find myself robbed blind! I thought our love was not only mutual but indestructible; and yet, I have nursed a serpent in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nurse, serpent

nurture a serpent in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. (A less common variant of "nurture a viper in one's bosom.") I thought the profligate had seen the light and was seeking redemption, and so I took him into my care. But before long, I knew I had nurtured a serpent in my bosom, as I awoke one morning to find myself robbed blind! I thought our love was not only mutual but indestructible; and yet, I have nurtured a serpent in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nurture, serpent

nourish a serpent in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. (A less common variant of "nourish a viper in one's bosom.") I thought the profligate had seen the light and was seeking redemption, and so I took him into my care. But before long, I knew I had nourished a serpent in my bosom, as I awoke one morning to find myself robbed blind! I thought our love was not only mutual but indestructible; and yet, I have nourished a serpent in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out, having run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nourish, serpent

serpent's tongue

1. A tendency to speak maliciously. A: "He has such a serpent's tongue that I hate to be around him." B: "Of course you do—who wants to be verbally attacked all the time?"
2. A nickname for a fossilized shark's tooth. I think they call a shark's tooth a serpent's tongue because of how the root is forked.
See also: tongue

civil serpent

n. a civil servant. You have no idea the kinds of things “civil serpents” have to put up with.
See also: civil, serpent
References in classic literature ?
It may be too fanciful to say that something, either in his moral or material aspect, suggested the idea that a miracle had been wrought by transforming a serpent into a man, but so imperfectly that the snaky nature was yet hidden, and scarcely hidden, under the mere outward guise of humanity.
And then there was an audible hiss, but whether it came from the apparent lunatic's own lips, or was the real hiss of a serpent, might admit of a discussion.
that you had a serpent in your bosom," answered the servant with hesitation.
Whether insane or not, he showed so keen a perception of frailty, error, and vice, that many persons gave him credit for being possessed not merely with a serpent, but with an actual fiend, who imparted this evil faculty of recognizing whatever was ugliest in man's heart.
He waited an hour; two hours; three hours; but the Serpent was always there, and even from afar one could see the flash of his red eyes and the column of smoke which rose from his long, pointed tail.
Serpent, would you be so kind as to step aside to let me pass?
Serpent, that I am going home where my father is waiting for me.
As soon as the King's son saw the old Abbess spinning he threw himself at her feet and entreated her to tell him how he could kill the Seven-headed Serpent.
With this sword only it is possible to kill the Serpent, because even if its blade breaks a new one will grow again for every head the monster has.
Pott cast an imploring look at the innocent cause of the mischief, as if to entreat him to say nothing about the serpent.
So spake the Enemie of Mankind, enclos'd In Serpent, Inmate bad, and toward EVE Address'd his way, not with indented wave, Prone on the ground, as since, but on his reare, Circular base of rising foulds, that tour'd Fould above fould a surging Maze, his Head Crested aloft, and Carbuncle his Eyes; With burnisht Neck of verdant Gold, erect Amidst his circling Spires, that on the grass Floted redundant: pleasing was his shape, And lovely, never since of Serpent kind Lovelier, not those that in ILLYRIA chang'd HERMIONE and CADMUS, or the God In EPIDAURUS; nor to which transformd AMMONIAN JOVE, or CAPITOLINE was seen, Hee with OLYMPIAS, this with her who bore SCIPIO the highth of ROME.
Thee, Serpent, suttlest beast of all the field I knew, but not with human voice endu'd; Redouble then this miracle, and say, How cam'st thou speakable of mute, and how To me so friendly grown above the rest Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?
Back to the Thicket slunk The guiltie Serpent, and well might, for EVE Intent now wholly on her taste, naught else Regarded, such delight till then, as seemd, In Fruit she never tasted, whether true Or fansied so, through expectation high Of knowledg, nor was God-head from her thought.
I tried to fight off the serpent, but it was of no use.
Professor Bumper was indeed unable to go about much for a few days after his encounter with the great serpent.