One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small southern European viper with an upturned snout.
Vipera aspis, family Viperidae
- ‘If you were rotten, you might be a vole or an asp or a dung beetle.’
- ‘Overseas they have a mixture of cobras, vipers, asps and snake types that we don't have here, that produce quite different effects.’
- ‘Soon after Shirley Temple committed suicide by stinging herself with an asp's venom and her sadness was mirrored by thousands across the world.’
- ‘You try not to be seen, yet you snap out unexpectedly like a hidden asp.’
- ‘But, he mused: ‘I feel that I may be taking an asp to my bosom.’’
- ‘Thus animals could be seen as the embodiments of evil, like the asp of Macarius of Alexandria.’
- ‘Surely the worst asps in this world are the ones one has clasped to the bosom.’
- ‘Stretched out seductively on her cushion at Wolf's right elbow, she resembled an asp in greenery.’
- ‘Have we, as a Nation, in our liberality, clasped an asp to our collective bosom.’
- ‘The story of the asp, and of the suicide note, not only proclaimed Octavian's innocence: it gilded him with honour.’
- 1.1another term for Egyptian cobra
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘A rustic, who engages the Queen in quibbling banter, brings asps concealed in a basket of figs.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Antony committed suicide while Cleopatra took the asp.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Cleopatra, fallen into Caesar's power but determined not to grace his triumph, takes her own life by the bite of an asp.’
- ‘In the basket is an asp, a very poisonous snake which kills painlessly.’
Middle English: from Latin aspis, from Greek.
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