[ vahy-per ]
/ ˈvaɪ pər /




    to nourish a viper in one's bosom, to befriend a person who proves to be treacherous.

Origin of viper

1520–30; < Latin vīpera, haplological variant of *vīvipera, noun use of feminine of *vīviper, later (as re-formation) vīviparus viviparous
Related formsvi·per·ish, adjectivevi·per·ish·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for viper

British Dictionary definitions for viper


/ (ˈvaɪpə) /


any venomous Old World snake of the family Viperidae, esp any of the genus Vipera (the adder and related forms), having hollow fangs in the upper jaw that are used to inject venom
any of various other snakes, such as the horned viper
a malicious or treacherous person
Derived Formsviper-like, adjective

Word Origin for viper

C16: from Latin vīpera, perhaps from vīvus living + parere to bear, referring to a tradition that the viper was viviparous
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 viper



1520s, from Middle French vipere, from Latin vipera "viper, snake, serpent," from vivus "alive, living" (see vital) + parere "bring forth, bear" (see pare). It formerly was believed (mistakenly) that the viper does not lay eggs. Applied to persons of spiteful character since at least 1590s. The only venomous snake found in Great Britain. Replaced native adder. "The flesh of the viper was formerly regarded as possessing great nutritive or restorative properties, and was frequently used medicinally" [OED]; hence viper wine, wine medicated with some kind of extract from vipers, used 17c. by "gray-bearded gallants" in a bid "to feele new lust, and youthfull flames agin."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper