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[vahy-per] /ˈvaɪ pər/
any of several venomous Old World snakes of the genus Vipera, especially V. berus, a small snake common in northern Eurasia.
any related snakes belonging to the family Viperidae, characterized by erectile, venom-conducting fangs.
any of various venomous or supposedly venomous snakes.
a malignant or spiteful person.
a false or treacherous person.
(initial capital letter) Military. a 9-pound (4 kg), shoulder-launched, unguided U.S. Army antitank rocket with an effective range of 273 yards (250 meters).
to nourish a viper in one's bosom, to befriend a person who proves to be treacherous.
Origin of viper
1520-30; < Latin vīpera, haplological variant of *vīvipera, noun use of feminine of *vīviper, later (as re-formation) vīviparus viviparous
Related forms
viperish, adjective
viperishly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for viper


any venomous Old World snake of the family Viperidae, esp any of the genus Vipera (the adder and related forms), having hollow fangs in the upper jaw that are used to inject venom
any of various other snakes, such as the horned viper
See pit viper
a malicious or treacherous person
Derived Forms
viper-like, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin vīpera, perhaps from vīvus living + parere to bear, referring to a tradition that the viper was viviparous
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 viper

1520s, from Middle French vipere, from Latin vipera "viper, snake, serpent," from vivus "alive, living" (see vital) + parere "bring forth, bear" (see pare). It formerly was believed (mistakenly) that the viper does not lay eggs. Applied to persons of spiteful character since at least 1590s. The only venomous snake found in Great Britain. Replaced native adder. "The flesh of the viper was formerly regarded as possessing great nutritive or restorative properties, and was frequently used medicinally" [OED]; hence viper wine, wine medicated with some kind of extract from vipers, used 17c. by "gray-bearded gallants" in a bid "to feele new lust, and youthfull flames agin."

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



A marijuana dealer or user (1930s+ Narcotics)

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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viper in the Bible

In Job 20:16, Isa. 30:6; 59:5, the Heb. word eph'eh is thus rendered. The Hebrew word, however, probably denotes a species of poisonous serpents known by the Arabic name of 'el ephah. Tristram has identified it with the sand viper, a species of small size common in sandy regions, and frequently found under stones by the shores of the Dead Sea. It is rapid in its movements, and highly poisonous. In the New Testament _echidne_ is used (Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33) for any poisonous snake. The viper mentioned in Acts 28:3 was probably the vipera aspis, or the Mediterranean viper. (See ADDER.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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