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 ?
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.
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.
Could I for one moment forget myself, the serpent might not abide within me.
Roderick Elliston, whether the serpent was a physical reptile, or whether the morbidness of your nature suggested that symbol to your fancy, the moral of the story is not the less true and strong.
The serpent was but a dark fantasy, and what it typified was as shadowy as itself.
You see," observed Elliston, pointing to the book of serpents, while a smile gleamed upon his lips, "I am making an effort to become better acquainted with my bosom friend; but I find nothing satisfactory in this volume.
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.
But strange Hath bin the cause, and wonderful to heare: This Tree is not as we are told, a Tree Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown Op'ning the way, but of Divine effect To open Eyes, and make them Gods who taste; And hath bin tasted such; the Serpent wise, Or not restraind as wee, or not obeying, Hath eat'n of the fruit, and is become, Not dead, as we are threatn'd, but thenceforth Endu'd with human voice and human sense, Reasoning to admiration, and with mee Perswasively hath so prevaild, that I Have also tasted, and have also found Th' effects to correspond, opener mine Eyes, Dimm erst, dilated Spirits, ampler Heart, And growing up to Godhead; which for thee Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise.
Not God omnipotent, for Fate, yet so Perhaps thou shalt not Die, perhaps the Fact Is not so hainous now, foretasted Fruit, Profan'd first by the Serpent, by him first Made common and unhallowd: ere one tastes; Nor yet on him found deadly; he yet lives, Lives, as thou saidst, and gaines to live as Man Higher degree of Life, inducement strong To us, as likely tasting to attaine Proportional ascent, which cannot be But to be Gods, or Angels Demi-gods.
What words have past thy Lips, ADAM severe, Imput'st thou that to my default, or will Of wandering, as thou call'st it, which who knows But might as ill have happ'nd thou being by, Or to thy self perhaps: hadst thou bin there, Or bere th' attempt, thou couldst not have discernd Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake; No ground of enmitie between us known, Why hee should mean me ill, or seek to harme.