• synonyms

puff adder

  1. a large, thick-bodied, African viper, Bitis arietans, that inflates its body and hisses when disturbed.
  2. a similar viper, B. inornata, native to southern Africa.
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Origin of puff adder

First recorded in 1780–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for puff-adder

Historical Examples

  • The Puff-adder is the most common, as well as the most deadly, of African snakes.

    Chatterbox, 1905.


  • A puff-adder was his first thought, looking around for the reptile.

    The Sign of the Spider

    Bertram Mitford

  • Of all the Cape snakes the puff-adder is not only the deadliest, but by far the most to be feared.

  • The cobra and the puff-adder are the most dangerous of these fearsome things.

  • It is a specimen—a very rare specimen—of the South African puff-adder.

British Dictionary definitions for puff-adder

puff adder

  1. a large venomous African viper, Bitis arietans, that is yellowish-grey with brown markings and inflates its body when alarmed
  2. another name for hognose snake
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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 puff-adder


1789 of a South African snake that is venomous; 1882 of a western U.S. snake that is not; from puff (v.) + adder.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper