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

An unhelpful or otherwise disagreeable bureaucrat. A humorous play on the phrase "civil servant"; serpents are typically depicted as evil or villainous. I can't deal with any more civil serpents—they just keep sending me from office to office.
See also: civil, serpent

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 ?
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.
At the sight of the Marionette kicking and squirming like a young whirlwind, the Serpent laughed so heartily and so long that at last he burst an artery and died on the spot.
"Ha, ha!" chuckled Roderick, releasing his grasp of the man.-- "His bosom serpent has stung him then!"
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.
This man's very heart, if Roderick might be believed, had been changed into a serpent, which would finally torment both him and itself to death.
"What bosom serpent has the sharpest sting?" repeated this man; but he put the question as if by a reluctant necessity, and grew pale while he was uttering it.
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.
The old Abbess then gave the Prince her blessing, and he set out upon his enterprise, arrived at the Serpent's castle by following the secret passage which she had shown him, and by carefully attending to all her directions he happily succeeded in killing the monster.
`As if it wasn't trouble enough hatching the eggs,' said the Pigeon; `but I must be on the look-out for serpents night and day!
`I HAVE tasted eggs, certainly,' said Alice, who was a very truthful child; `but little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know.'
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?
Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt The vertue of that Fruit, in thee first prov'd: But say, where grows the Tree, from hence how far?
Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither, Fruitless to me, though Fruit be here to excess, The credit of whose vertue rest with thee, Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.