• synonyms


  1. any of several New World pit vipers of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, having a rattle composed of a series of horny, interlocking elements at the end of the tail.
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Origin of rattlesnake

An Americanism dating back to 1620–30; rattle1 + snake
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rattlesnakes

Historical Examples of rattlesnakes

  • Next thing they'll be asking about mountain lions and rattlesnakes.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • "It's a likely-looking place for rattlesnakes," Bob remarked.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

  • Handling glanders was almost as dangerous as either the bullets or the rattlesnakes.

  • We knew that rattlesnakes abounded in this region as we had seen them on our way.

  • If your back garden is infested with rattlesnakes you should keep pigs.

British Dictionary definitions for rattlesnakes


  1. any of the venomous New World snakes constituting the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, such as C. horridus (black or timber rattlesnake): family Crotalidae (pit vipers). They have a series of loose horny segments on the tail that are vibrated to produce a buzzing or whirring sound
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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 rattlesnakes



1620s, from rattle + snake (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper