One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small southern European viper with an upturned snout.
Vipera aspis, family Viperidae
- ‘Surely the worst asps in this world are the ones one has clasped to the bosom.’
- ‘Soon after Shirley Temple committed suicide by stinging herself with an asp's venom and her sadness was mirrored by thousands across the world.’
- ‘Thus animals could be seen as the embodiments of evil, like the asp of Macarius of Alexandria.’
- ‘But, he mused: ‘I feel that I may be taking an asp to my bosom.’’
- ‘You try not to be seen, yet you snap out unexpectedly like a hidden asp.’
- ‘Have we, as a Nation, in our liberality, clasped an asp to our collective bosom.’
- ‘Overseas they have a mixture of cobras, vipers, asps and snake types that we don't have here, that produce quite different effects.’
- ‘If you were rotten, you might be a vole or an asp or a dung beetle.’
- ‘The story of the asp, and of the suicide note, not only proclaimed Octavian's innocence: it gilded him with honour.’
- ‘Stretched out seductively on her cushion at Wolf's right elbow, she resembled an asp in greenery.’
- 1.1another term for Egyptian cobra
- ‘A clown enters her chamber before she is to be taken away by Caesar, bringing a basket of figs in which there is a poisonous asp which Cleopatra uses to kill herself.’
- ‘In the basket is an asp, a very poisonous snake which kills painlessly.’
- ‘You would think after Eve's shenanigans in the Garden of Eden and Cleopatra's mishap with her asp, we would have learned by now.’
- ‘A rustic, who engages the Queen in quibbling banter, brings asps concealed in a basket of figs.’
- ‘She would not live this way, so history says she had an asp, which was an Egyptian cobra, brought to her hidden in a basket of figs.’
- ‘Cleopatra, fallen into Caesar's power but determined not to grace his triumph, takes her own life by the bite of an asp.’
- ‘Antony committed suicide while Cleopatra took the asp.’
- ‘‘He had a heart of gold, but he also had a tongue as sharp as a Gillette razor and a bite every bit as venomous as the asp that bit Cleopatra,’ he said.’
- ‘Tragedy and romance have never been so irresistibly entwined: the beautiful young queen, maddened by grief, hastening to join her dead lover, Mark Antony, through the kiss of an asp.’
- ‘In his play Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra is delivered a basket of figs containing an asp, the venomous snake that ultimately causes her death.’
- ‘This doesn't sound too appetizing to Cleo, and she has an asp - a rather poisonous snake - brought to her hidden in a basket of figs.’
- ‘The Egyptian queen clutches the asp with a frightening tenacity, while the naked object of Zeus's golden shower grasps the coins from Olympus as one who fully understands the terms of the consummation being visited upon her.’
2A large predatory Eurasian freshwater fish of the carp family.
Aspius aspius, family Cyprinidae
- ‘Added to this were exotic creatures such as ide, and asp, and armfuls of vast trout from Vättern.’
- ‘Fish like the asp are gems waiting to be uncovered.’
- ‘Zander and Volga zander were also taken on lures, although they inhabited different areas and unlike the asp, were almost always caught close to the bottom of the river.’
- ‘Dawn in my opinion is the prime asp feeding period.’
- ‘There are problems with using ‘outsize’ baits and our 2-4 lb asp and zander, meant that we had to adapt our rigs to get a good hook presentation.’
Middle English: from Latin aspis, from Greek.
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