a severe swinging blow from the side.
a rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes, of southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, that has a hornlike projection over each eye and that moves in loose sand by raising loops on the body and displacing them sideways.
any Old World snake that moves by sidewinding, as various species of Bitis and Cerastes.
(initial capital letter) an air-to-air, supersonic weapon that intercepts and destroys enemy aircraft using an infrared homing-guidance system.

Origin of sidewinder

First recorded in 1830–40; side1 + winder Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sidewinder

Historical Examples of sidewinder

  • The sidewinder is of a grayish color, mottled with dark blotches.

    The Mystic Mid-Region

    Arthur J. Burdick

  • Yknow what the sidewinder, Bronco, babbled fore he passed out?

  • Pete walked over a sidewinder & Bud shot him ten ft. in air.

    Cabin Fever

    B. M. Bower

  • Once a sidewinder, almost invisible against the sand, looped away from the intruders with smooth deliberation.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • He had read that the sidewinder, or "horned" rattlesnake, was common in the Western deserts.

    The Scarlet Lake Mystery

    Harold Leland Goodwin

British Dictionary definitions for sidewinder



a North American rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes, that moves forwards by a sideways looping motion
boxing, US a heavy swinging blow from the side
a US air-to-air missile using infrared homing aids in seeking its target
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 sidewinder

small horned rattlesnake of southwestern U.S., 1875, American English, from side (adj.) + agent noun of wind (v.), so called in reference to its "peculiar lateral progressive motion." Also sidewiper (1888).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper