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 ?
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.
One day he encountered an ambitious statesman, and gravely inquired after the welfare of his boa constrictor; for of that species, Roderick affirmed, this gentleman's serpent must needs be, since its appetite was enormous enough to devour the whole country and constitution.
A man of impure life, and a brazen face, asking Roderick if there were any serpent in his breast, he told him that there was, and of the same species that once tortured Don Rodrigo, the Goth.
Thus making his own actual serpent--if a serpent there actually was in his bosom--the type of each man's fatal error, or hoarded sin, or unquiet conscience, and striking his sting so unremorsefully into the sorest spot, we may well imagine that Roderick became the pest of the city.
He spent whole days--indeed, it was his sole occupation--in communing with the serpent.
He had just thrown a book upon the grass, where it lay half opened, thus disclosing itself to be a natural history of the serpent tribe, illustrated by lifelike plates.
Positively, I deem myself fortunate in having bred but a single serpent.
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.
On the contrary, the green Serpent, who had seemed, until then, wide awake and full of life, became suddenly very quiet and still.
Without a moment's hesitation, he started to step over him, but he had just raised one leg when the Serpent shot up like a spring and the Marionette fell head over heels backward.
Winkle, 'how dare you look me in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?
Pott cast an imploring look at the innocent cause of the mischief, as if to entreat him to say nothing about the serpent.
Our way lay across high mountains infested with frightful serpents, but we had the good luck to escape them and came at last to the seashore.