pit viper


: any of various mostly New World vipers (subfamily Crotalinae of the family Viperidae) with a sensory pit on each side of the head and hollow perforated retractable fangs

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web This is what the venom of the Russell’s pit viper does to blood. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 14 July 2012 Everything from barracudas and turtles to manatees — as well as alligators, crocodiles and the Florida cottonmouth, a venomous, semi-aquatic pit viper — have been found in its waters. Matt Benoit, Discover Magazine, 14 Dec. 2022 Clamp, Andrews and other experts say do not apply a tourniquet to a pit viper bite (which is something Vuncannon did). Forrest Brown, CNN, 24 July 2022 Clamp and Andrews said your response should be the same no matter which type of pit viper bites you. Forrest Brown, CNN, 24 July 2022 Captopril, the first, was created in the 1970s from the venom of a Brazilian jararaca pit viper to treat high blood pressure. New York Times, 3 May 2022 The owner also explained that the city removed two other snakes from his residence, including a pit viper. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, 5 Aug. 2021 The team analyzed the genome of the Taiwan habu (Trimeresurus mucrosquamatus) brown pit viper to see which genes are associated with the venom system. Chris Smith, BGR, 5 Apr. 2021 But a paper published in 2013 in the Journal of Comparative Pathology found that of 4,087 pit viper hatchlings studied, three hatched with bicephaly, and of 324 rattlesnake hatchlings, none had bicephaly. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Oct. 2020 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pit viper was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near pit viper

Cite this Entry

“Pit viper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pit%20viper. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

pit viper

: any of various mostly New World poisonous snakes that have a small pit on each side of the head and hollow fangs with holes in them

Medical Definition

pit viper

: any of various mostly New World highly specialized venomous snakes (as the rattlesnake, copperhead, water moccasin, and fer-de-lance) that belong to a subfamily (Crotalinae) of the family Viperidae, that have a small depression on each side of the head between the eye and the nostril, and that have hollow perforated fangs usually folded back in the upper part of the mouth but erected in striking

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