viper


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nurse a viper in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. 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 viper 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 viper in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nurse, viper

nurture a viper in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. 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 viper 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 viper in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nurture, viper

nourish a viper in (one's) bosom

To befriend, look after, or take care of someone who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. 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 viper 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 viper in my bosom all these years: my darling husband has cast me out and run off with a younger woman.
See also: bosom, nourish, viper

a viper in (one's) bosom

A friend, lover, or relation who proves to be traitorous, untrustworthy, deceitful, or ungrateful. (Used especially in the phrase "nourish/nurse/nurture a viper in one's bosom.") Well, it turns out that Margaret was quite a viper 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 steal my position!
See also: bosom, viper

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.
See also: bosom, viper

a viper in your bosom

a person you have helped but who behaves treacherously towards you.
The phrase comes from one of Aesop's fables, in which a viper reared in a person's bosom eventually bites its nurturer. The idea is also found in Latin (in sinu viperam habere ) and the expression appears in various forms in English from the late 16th century.
See also: bosom, viper
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