Definition of viper in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvīpər/


1A venomous snake with large hinged fangs, typically having a broad head and stout body, with dark patterns on a lighter background.
Example sentences
  • There were other snakes in his collection; mambas, vipers, adders, boomslangs, vine snakes, sand snakes, pythons and other cobra species.
  • While human encounters with cobras, vipers, and pythons can prove fatal, more often than not it is the snakes that are killed.
  • The dexterity with which the charmers handle deadly snakes such as cobras and vipers has added to the allure of the street-side performances.
1.1A spiteful or treacherous person.
Example sentences
  • Did we have idiots regulating morons or mice monitoring vipers?
  • I surrounded myself with vipers in human bodies.
  • Which may be why the vipers in the political snake pit are rattling their rattles and baring those long, curved fangs.


viper in one's bosom

A person who betrays those who have helped them.
Example sentences
  • Thank goodness one politician opposed their entry - or we could have this viper in our bosom!
  • Apparently he has been unconsciously nursing a viper in his bosom, for the same Science now ‘turns and strikes him.’
  • Why nourish a viper in one's bosom, cultivate an adversary, possibly an enemy?



Pronunciation: /ˈvīp(ə)rən/
Pronunciation: /ˈvīpəˌrīn/
Example sentences
  • Hers is the most determined fall into degradation, epitomized by the viperine smile that simmers on her lips after her final abasement for a fix.
  • In view of its precarious status, removal of viperine snakes from breeding pools should continue to be part of the population management strategy for this endangered amphibian.
  • I took this photo of a viperine snake last August at midday on a shaded stone wall just outside a village in Northern Navarra.


Pronunciation: /ˈvīpəriSH/
Example sentences
  • Surely, people are more scared of you and your viperish tongue?
  • Occasionally she even demonstrates some viperish spirit, as when she traded insults with another model.
  • Considering they're cousins I've never seen a more viperish attack of sibling rivalry ever.


Pronunciation: /ˈvīp(ə)rəs/
Example sentences
  • Now we face the least appealing of the evening's ever-shifting alternatives - marching eight miles through viperous wastes, past a frontier checkpoint, to the nearest outpost of the border patrol.
  • When the Commission finds in her husband's favour, she has to watch her poisoner pardoned, freed and fêted as a popular celebrity, while she faces an increasingly viperous press, and is jeered at and spat on in the streets.
  • It was a peaceful town till about a year ago when some viperous barbarian started slaughtering folks.


Early 16th century: from French vipère or Latin vipera, from vivus 'alive' + parere 'bring forth'.

  • Some vipers give birth to live young which have hatched from eggs within the parent's body, whereas the eggs of most snakes are laid before they hatch. The name viper derives from the fact they are viviparous (‘producing live young’ M17th), coming from Latin vivus ‘alive’, as in vivisection (early 18th century), and parere ‘to bring forth’, the source of parent (Late Middle English). The phrase a viper in your bosom, ‘a person you have helped but who has behaved treacherously towards you’, comes from one of Aesop's fables in which a viper reared close to a person's chest eventually bites its nurturer. See also adder, snake

Words that rhyme with viper

griper, piper, sniper, swiper, wiper

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: vi·per

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