[ kuh-doo-see-uh s, -syoos, -shuh s, -dyoo- ]
/ kəˈdu si əs, -syus, -ʃəs, -ˈdyu- /

noun, plural ca·du·ce·i [kuh-doo-see-ahy, -shee-ahy, -dyoo-] /kəˈdu siˌaɪ, -ʃiˌaɪ, -ˈdyu-/.

Classical Mythology. the staff carried by Mercury as messenger of the gods.
a representation of this staff used as an emblem of the medical profession and as the insignia of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.


Nearby words

  1. cadmus,
  2. cadmus, paul,
  3. cadogan teapot,
  4. cadre,
  5. cadreman,
  6. caducibranchiate,
  7. caducity,
  8. caducous,
  9. cadwalader,
  10. cadwallader

Origin of caduceus

1585–95; < Latin, variant of cādūceum < Greek (Doric) kārȳ́keion herald's staff, equivalent to kārȳk- (stem of kârȳx) herald + -eion, neuter of -eios adj. suffix

Related formsca·du·ce·an, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for caduceus

British Dictionary definitions for caduceus


/ (kəˈdjuːsɪəs) /

noun plural -cei (-sɪˌaɪ)

classical myth a staff entwined with two serpents and bearing a pair of wings at the top, carried by Hermes (Mercury) as messenger of the gods
an insignia resembling this staff used as an emblem of the medical professionCompare staff of Aesculapius

Word Origin for caduceus

C16: from Latin, from Doric Greek karukeion, from karux herald

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 caduceus



1590s, from Latin caduceus, alteration of Doric Greek karykeion "herald's staff," from karyx (genitive karykos) "a herald," from PIE *karu-, from root *kar- "to praise loudly, extol" (cf. Sanskrit carkarti "mentions with praise," Old English hreð "fame, glory"). Token of a peaceful embassy; originally an olive branch. Especially the wand carried by Mercury, messenger of the gods, usually represented with two serpents twined round it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for caduceus


[ kə-dōōsē-əs, -shəs ]

n. pl. ca•du•ce•i (-sē-ī′)

A winged staff with two serpents twined around it, carried by Hermes.
An insignia modeled on Hermes' staff and used as the symbol of the medical profession.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.