One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Zoology. Formerly: †a snake of the monotypic genus Ophiophagus (family Elapidae), containing only the king cobra or hamadryad, O. hannah, which feeds almost exclusively on other snakes (obsolete). Also (now only) (in form Ophiophagus): the genus itself.
Mid 16th century (in an earlier sense). In sense 1 from classical Latin Ophiophagī (masculine plural), lit. ‘the snake-eaters’, used as the name of an African people, probably from Byzantine Greek ὀϕιοϕάγος snake-eating from Hellenistic Greek ὀϕιο- + ancient Greek -ϕάγος.
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