cobra

noun

co·​bra ˈkō-brə How to pronounce cobra (audio)
: any of several venomous Asian and African elapid snakes (genera Naja and Ophiophagus) that when excited expand the skin of the neck into a hood by movement of the anterior ribs
also : any of several related African snakes

Examples of cobra in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Share [Findings] Interviews with reptile poachers in southwestern Balochistan indicated that the Caspian cobra, the desert monitor, the Iranian mastigure, Maynard’s longnose sand snake, the Persian spider gecko, and the Tartar sand boa were being captured for use by snake charmers. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 The device is also super stylish, available in various colors and trendy cobra patterns. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 10 Jan. 2024 Rina Bharati, our patient instructor, showed Leo and Stella how to pose like cats, cobras, and (downward-facing) dogs. Flora Stubbs, Travel + Leisure, 28 Nov. 2023 Sea snakes produce venom that is about 10 times more potent than that of the cobra. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 7 Nov. 2023 The column shifter contorts like a cobra from behind the heater controls. Larry Griffin, Car and Driver, 11 Apr. 2023 The accompanying music video is, of course, full of cobra imagery. Vulture, 3 Nov. 2023 Continuing with the strength exercises, Cyrus then went into a cobra pose, which was followed by an upward dog and a lunging twist position. Gabrielle Rockson, Peoplemag, 31 Oct. 2023 The episode also showcases ants in New York City that largely sustain themselves on human food and cobras in India that have become less likely to strike because of the residents’ tolerance for them. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cobra.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Portuguese cobra (de capello), literally, hooded snake, from Latin colubra snake

First Known Use

1802, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cobra was in 1802

Dictionary Entries Near cobra

Cite this Entry

“Cobra.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cobra. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

cobra

noun
co·​bra ˈkō-brə How to pronounce cobra (audio)
: any of several poisonous Asian and African snakes that when excited expand the skin of the neck into a hood
also : any of several related African snakes
Etymology

from Portuguese cobra (de capello) "snake (with a hood)," from Latin colubra "snake"

Word Origin
During the early part of the 16th century, Portuguese traders took control of cities along India's western coast. During this period of contact, the Portuguese became familiar with some of India's animal life. One animal they noticed was a poisonous snake that could expand the skin of its neck to form a hood. The Portuguese called this snake cobra de capello, meaning "snake with a hood." The Portuguese name was first borrowed into English in the 17th century. By the 19th century the name had become shortened to cobra.

Medical Definition

cobra

noun
co·​bra ˈkō-brə How to pronounce cobra (audio)
1
: any of several very venomous Asian and African elapid snakes of the genera Naja and Ophiophagus that when excited expand the skin of the neck into a broad hood by movement of the anterior ribs see indian cobra, king cobra
2
: either of two African snakes that spit their venom from a distance:
b
3
: mamba

Legal Definition

COBRA

abbreviation
ˈkō-brə
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 see also Employee Retirement Income Security Act

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