ophidian

adjective

ophid·​i·​an ō-ˈfi-dē-ən How to pronounce ophidian (audio)
: of, relating to, or resembling snakes
ophidian noun

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In places with rich ophidian faunas, dozens of antivenins may therefore need to be kept to hand. The Economist, 30 Dec. 2020 Finally, though, Raymer does rise to the occasion, tracking down a hit-and-run driver and putting an end (with an ophidian exclamation point) to the criminal career of one of the book’s more unsavory characters. T. Coraghessan Boyle, New York Times, 3 May 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ophidian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin Ophidia, order or suborder name (from ophid-, probably taken mistakenly as stem of Greek óphis "snake" + -ia -ia entry 2) + -an entry 2; óphis (i-stem) going back to Indo-European *h3egwhi- "snake," whence also Sanskrit áhiḥ "snake," Avestan aži-, and perhaps Armenian "viper"

Note: So reconstructed by R. Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010) and A. Sihler (New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, Oxford, 1995), partly on the grounds that an original o (*ogwhi-) would produce Sanskrit *ā́hiḥ by Brugmann's Law. However, the presumed Indo-European by-form *h2engwh-,*h2n̥gwh-, with a nasal, is generally reconstructed with *h2; this etymon is more widely attested, with various suffixal formations: Old High German unk "snake, lizard," Old Irish escung "eel" (from a compound meaning "water-snake" or "fish-snake"), Welsh llysywen "eel" (with llys- "somewhat, half, false"), Latin anguis "snake," Russian "grass snake (Natrix natrix)," Polish wąż "snake," Lithuanian angìs "adder," Latvian odze, Armenian awj "snake." Greek also has échis "snake," which, if it is connected with the word for "hedgehog" (see echino-), goes back to *h1eǵhi-, which may or may not be another unexplained by-form.

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ophidian was in 1826

Dictionary Entries Near ophidian

Cite this Entry

“Ophidian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ophidian. Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

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