One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large and dangerous pit viper native to Central and South America.
- ‘Later, there was a fight between a mongoose and a 6ft-long fer de lance.’
- ‘He also finds some of the rare and unique snakes in his journey, which includes eyelash viper, the fer de lance and the bushmaster.’
- ‘Some venom kills very rapidly, such as that of the golden fer-de-lance (Bothrops insularis) of Queimada Island, off the Brazilian coast.’
Late 19th century: from French, literally ‘iron (head) of a lance’.
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