boc·​ka·​dam ˈbō-kə-dəm How to pronounce bockadam (audio)
variants or less commonly bokadam
plural bockadams also bokadams
: an aquatic, mildly venomous snake (Cerberus rynchops synonym Hurria rynchops) native to India, southeastern Asia, and northern Australia

Word History


borrowed from Telugu bukkaḍamu "eel, water snake"

Note: The word initially appears as a name for the snake in the phrase "karoo bokadam," in Patrick Russell, An Account of Indian Serpents Collected on the Coast of Coromandel (London, 1796), plate 17 ("karoo" is presumably Telugu kāru, "black," perhaps referring to its black markings). The form in the etymology herein is from Charles Philip Brown, A Telugu-English Dictionary (on-line version at "Digital Dictionaries of South Asia"). Brown gives the variant burudabukkaḍamu, probably for buradabukkaḍamu, literally, "mud bockadam." "Burada bukkadam" is given as a Telugu equivalent for "water snake" in T.J. Maltby, The Ganjam District Manual (Madras, 1882), p. 271. The nomenclatural history of Cerberus rynchops and allied species has been complicated; for a recent analysis with references see John C. Murphy, et al., "The dog-faced water snakes, a revision of the genus Cerberus Cuvier, (Squamata, Serpentes, Homalopsidae), with the description of a new species," Zootaxa, No. 3484 (2012), pp.1–34.

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Cite this Entry

“Bockadam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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