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[kop-er-hed] /ˈkɒp ərˌhɛd/
a venomous snake, Agkistrodon (Ancistrodon) contortrix, of the eastern and southern U.S., having a light-brown to copper-red body marked with darker bands.
an extremely venomous but sluggish snake, Denisonia superba, of Australia and Tasmania, having a reddish to black body, depending on the region.
(initial capital letter) U.S. History. a Northern Democrat who opposed the Civil War, advocating peace and restoration of the Union even if slavery continued.
(initial capital letter) Military. a finned, 155mm cannon-launched U.S. Army artillery shell that homes on the target, using the reflection of a laser beam projected by a forward observer.
Origin of copperhead
An Americanism dating back to 1765-75; copper1 + head Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for copperhead
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, Cameron, that Sioux devil copperhead must be got rid of.

  • The copperhead remarked: 'I was always too smart for that, I was.'

  • Then why waste your labors, brave hearts and strong men, In tracking a trail to the copperhead's den?

  • As for the other Mr. copperhead, he did not interest Ursula.

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
  • The man is as deadly as a copperhead and twice as treacherous.

  • Mrs. copperhead had once been poorer than she was, a poor little governess.

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
  • Here you go out of my life, for if you appear in it once more I will finish you like a copperhead.

    The Harvester Gene Stratton Porter
  • “But it is true all the same,” said Mrs. copperhead, shaking her head.

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
  • This is a digression from our immediate subject, which was the luncheon prepared for Mr. copperhead.

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
British Dictionary definitions for copperhead


a venomous reddish-brown snake, Agkistrodon contortrix, of the eastern US: family Crotalidae (pit vipers)
a venomous reddish-brown Australian elapid snake, Denisonia superba
(US, informal) a Yankee supporter of the South during the Civil War
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for copperhead

Trigonocephalus contortrix, 1775, American English, so called for color markings between its eyes; see copper + head (n.). Poisonous "sneak snakes" (because they bite without warning), the name is said to have been first used in reference to Northerners suspected of Southern sympathies in Greeley's New York "Tribune," July 20, 1861. Charles H. Coleman, "The Use of the Term 'Copperhead' During the Civil War" ["Mississippi Valley Historical Review" 25 (1938), p.263] traces it to an anonymous letter against Ohio anti-war Democrats in the Cincinnati "Commercial" newspaper in the summer of 1861. It seems not to have been in widespread use until summer 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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