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[sur-puh n-teen, -tahyn]
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  1. of, characteristic of, or resembling a serpent, as in form or movement.
  2. having a winding course, as a road; sinuous.
  3. shrewd, wily, or cunning.
  1. a device on a harquebus lock for holding the match.
  2. a cannon having any of various bore sizes, used from the 15th to the 17th century.
  3. Skating. a school figure made by skating two figure eights that share one loop.
verb (used without object), ser·pen·tined, ser·pen·tin·ing.
  1. to make or follow a winding course: The stream serpentines through the valley.

Origin of serpentine1

1350–1400; Middle English (adj.) < Latin serpentīnus snakelike, equivalent to serpent- serpent + -īnus ine1


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2. twisting, snaking, tortuous.


[sur-puh n-teen, -tahyn]
  1. a common mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, H2Mg3Si2O2, usually oily green and sometimes spotted, occurring in many varieties: used for architectural and decorative purposes.

Origin of serpentine2

1350–1400; Middle English serpentyn < Medieval Latin serpentīnum, noun use. of neuter of serpentīnus serpentine1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for serpentine


  1. of, relating to, or resembling a serpent
  2. twisting; winding
  1. maths a curve that is symmetric about the origin of and asymptotic to the x -axis

Word Origin

C14: from Late Latin serpentīnus, from serpēns serpent


  1. a dark green or brown mineral with a greasy or silky lustre, found in igneous and metamorphic rocks. It is used as an ornamental stone; and one variety (chrysotile) is known as asbestos. Composition: hydrated magnesium silicate. Formula: Mg 3 Si 2 O 5 (OH) 4 . Crystal structure: monoclinic
  2. any of a group of minerals having the general formula (Mg,Fe) 3 Si 2 O 5 (OH) 4

Word Origin

C15 serpentyn, from Medieval Latin serpentīnum serpentine 1; referring to the snakelike patterns of these minerals
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

Word Origin and History for serpentine


c.1400, "plant reputed to contain antivenom," from Old French serpentin name of a precious stone, noun use of adjective meaning "of a snake, snake-like; sly, deceptive," from Late Latin serpentius "of a serpent," from Latin serpentem (nominative serpens) "snake" (see serpent). As the name of a greenish igneous rock consisting mainly of hydrous magnesium silicate, attested from early 15c.


"twisting, winding," 1610s; see serpent + -ine (1). An earlier adjective meaning "having the evil qualities of a serpent" is recorded from late 14c., from the French source of serpentine (n.). The winding lake of that name in Hyde Park, London, was constructed in 1730.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

serpentine in Science


[sûrpən-tēn′, -tīn′]
  1. Any of a group of greenish, brownish, or yellowish monoclinic minerals, occurring in igneous or metamorphic rocks. They are used as a source of magnesium and asbestos. Chemical formula: (Mg,Fe)3Si2O5(OH)4.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.