viper in one's bosom, (nourish) a(redirected from a viper in one's bosom)
viper in one's bosom
Also, snake in one's bosom. An ungrateful or treacherous friend, as in I got him dozens of freelance jobs, and then he told everyone I was a lousy musician-nothing like nourishing a viper in one's bosom . This metaphoric expression, often put as nourish a viper (or snake) in one's bosom, comes from Aesop's fable about a farmer who shelters a snake dying from the cold, which then fatally bites him after it recovers. It was referred to by Chaucer and Shakespeare, and appeared in numerous proverb collections.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
viper in one's bosom, (nourish) a
An ungrateful and treacherous friend; an individual whom one has helped and who returns the favor with treachery. This term comes from Aesop’s fable about a peasant who brings indoors a snake dying from the cold and is fatally bitten as soon as the snake recovers. Chaucer was among the first of the many writers to use this metaphor, which also made its way into the proverb collections of John Ray (1670), James Kelly (1721), and Thomas Fuller (1732). The term is variously put as snake or viper.
See also: viper
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer