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[sahyd-wahyn-der] /ˈsaɪdˌwaɪn dər/
a severe swinging blow from the side.
a rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes, of southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, that has a hornlike projection over each eye and that moves in loose sand by raising loops on the body and displacing them sideways.
any Old World snake that moves by sidewinding, as various species of Bitis and Cerastes.
(initial capital letter) an air-to-air, supersonic weapon that intercepts and destroys enemy aircraft using an infrared homing-guidance system.
Origin of sidewinder
First recorded in 1830-40; side1 + winder Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sidewinder
Historical Examples
  • The sidewinder is of a grayish color, mottled with dark blotches.

    The Mystic Mid-Region Arthur J. Burdick
  • Yknow what the sidewinder, Bronco, babbled fore he passed out?

    Satan and the Comrades Ralph Bennitt
  • Pete walked over a sidewinder & Bud shot him ten ft. in air.

    Cabin Fever B. M. Bower
  • Once a sidewinder, almost invisible against the sand, looped away from the intruders with smooth deliberation.

    Two Thousand Miles Below Charles Willard Diffin
  • He had read that the sidewinder, or "horned" rattlesnake, was common in the Western deserts.

    The Scarlet Lake Mystery Harold Leland Goodwin
British Dictionary definitions for sidewinder


a North American rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes, that moves forwards by a sideways looping motion
(boxing, US) a heavy swinging blow from the side
a US air-to-air missile using infrared homing aids in seeking its target
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 sidewinder

small horned rattlesnake of southwestern U.S., 1875, American English, from side (adj.) + agent noun of wind (v.), so called in reference to its "peculiar lateral progressive motion." Also sidewiper (1888).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sidewinder

sidewinder 1


  1. A wide, looping blow with the fist; roundhouse (1840+)
  2. A tree that does not fall where it was intended to (1940s+ Loggers)

[both senses literally from a winding at or to a side, and the second sense probably influenced by sidewinder 2]

sidewinder 2


  1. A dangerous and pugnacious man (1940s+)
  2. A gangster's bodyguard; gorilla: Eddy Prue, Morny's sidewinder (1940s+ Underworld)

[fr the dangerous sidewinder rattlesnake, so called fr its lateral locomotion, and presumed to be treacherous]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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