- Classical Mythology. a creature, variously described as a serpent, lizard, or dragon, said to kill by its breath or look.
- any of several tropical American iguanid lizards of the genus Basiliscus, noted for their ability to run across the surface of water on their hind legs.
Origin of basilisk
Examples from the Web for basilisk
Just ask any of the ladies who have been privileged enough to enter my "chamber of secrets" and "meet my basilisk."Voldemort Tweets to Live On
July 14, 2011
A basilisk, a sword, and a phoenix mean only one thing for Harry Potter: an excursion into the mysterious chamber.15 Key Moments From the Harry Potter Movies
July 14, 2011
Kayani sat in basilisk silence during the parliamentary session.Our Pakistan Problem Manages to Get Worse
May 15, 2011
No sooner does Hermione discover that the creature is a basilisk when Ginny Weasley, Ron's little sister, goes missing.Catch Up on Harry Potter: Watch 13 Key Moments
November 17, 2010
But to be quiet with such a basilisk before him was impossible.Barnaby Rudge
The party to see the Basilisk was not only the most agreeable of the season, but the most agreeable ever known.Tancred
That cold blue eye which is the basilisk of the British Army.On the Heels of De Wet
The Intelligence Officer
Roach changed the basilisk gaze with which he had regarded him to a vacant stare.Prisoners of Hope
Leave me to hatch, from the heat of their own passions, the basilisk which shall destroy them.Love and Intrigue
- (in classical legend) a serpent that could kill by its breath or glance
- any small arboreal semiaquatic lizard of the genus Basiliscus of tropical America: family Iguanidae (iguanas). The males have an inflatable head crest, used in display
- a 16th-century medium cannon, usually made of brass
Word Origin and History for basilisk
c.1300, from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos "little king," diminutive of basileus "king" (see Basil); said by Pliny to have been so called because of a crest or spot on its head resembling a crown.
The basilisk has since the fourteenth century been confused with the Cockatrice, and the subject is now a complicated one. [T.H. White, "The Bestiary. A Book of Beasts," 1954]
Its breath and glance were said to be fatal. The South American lizard so called (1813) because it, like the mythical beast, has a crest. Also used of a type of large cannon, throwing shot of 200 lb., from 1540s.