pit viper


noun

any of numerous venomous snakes of the family Crotalidae, of the New World, Asia, and the Malay Archipelago, as the rattlesnake, water moccasin, and copperhead, having a heat-sensitive pit on each side of the head between the eye and nostril.

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Origin of pit viper

First recorded in 1880–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for pit viper

pit viper

noun

any venomous snake of the New World family Crotalidae, having a heat-sensitive organ in a pit on each side of the head: includes the rattlesnakes
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

Scientific definitions for pit viper

pit viper

Any of various very venomous snakes of the family Crotalidae. Pit vipers are characterized by a triangular head with a small sensory pit below each eye. The pits detect infrared radiation and help the snake locate prey. Some scientists classify the pit vipers as a subfamily Crotalinae within the Viperidae, the family of vipers, rather than as a separate family. Copperheads, rattlesnakes, and fer-de-lances are pit vipers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.