One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various eruptive or metamorphic rocks which have spots or markings like a snake and are usually green; serpentine.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Robert Dallington (b. 1561), author and courtier. From classical Latin ophītēs ophites. Compare Middle French, French ophite, Italian ofite.
A member of an early Gnostic sect which worshipped the serpent.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Edward Topsell (d. 1625), Church of England clergyman and author. From post-classical Latin Ophitae (late 2nd or early 3rd cent. in Tertullian) from Hellenistic Greek Ὀϕῖται, plural of Ὀϕίτης from ancient Greek ὄϕις serpent + -ίτης.
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