One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A North African viper which has a spike over each eye.
- ‘The cerastes hides in the sand so that only its horns show; animals, thinking the horns are food, come close and are killed by the serpent.’
- ‘The cerastes is the most flexible of all serpents, so flexible that is seems to have no spine.’
- ‘Crotalus comes from the Greek crotalon, a rattle or little bell; cerastes means horned, referring to the horns above its eyes.’
Late Middle English: from Latin, from Greek kerastēs ‘horned’, from keras ‘horn’.
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