Simple Definition of basilisk
in stories and legends : a reptile that can kill people by breathing on them or looking at them
Full Definition of basilisk
1 : a legendary reptile with fatal breath and glance
2 : any of several crested tropical American lizards (genus Basiliscus of the family Iguanidae) related to the iguanas and noted for their ability to run on their hind legs
Origin and Etymology of basilisk
Middle English, from Latin basiliscus, from Greek basiliskos, from diminutive of basileus
First Known Use: 14th century
Did You Know?
In Hellenic and Roman legend, a basilisk (also called a cockatrice) was a serpent-like creature capable of destroying other creatures by way of its deadly stare. The modern basilisk is a lizard that belongs to the family Iguanidae and supposedly resembles this fabled monster; it has a large, inflatable crest atop its head and is sometimes called a "Jesus Christ lizard" for its ability to run quickly across the surface of water. The use of "basilisk" as an adjective occurs most frequently in phrases such as "basilisk stare"; recalling the notorious gaze of the legendary basilisk, it describes the deep and piercing look of someone who is frightening or seductive.
First Known Use of basilisk
Learn More about basilisk
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about basilisk
Seen and Heard
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