rat·​tle·​snake | \ ˈra-tᵊl-ˌsnāk How to pronounce rattlesnake (audio) \

Definition of rattlesnake

: any of several American pit vipers (genera Crotalus and Sistrurus) that have horny interlocking joints at the end of the tail which make a sharp rattling sound when shaken

Illustration of rattlesnake

Illustration of rattlesnake

Examples of rattlesnake in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Fat from the American rattlesnake isn’t so useful, but that didn’t stop entrepreneurs from rendering the fat, bottling it—and turning snake oil into a synonym for quackery. Lloyd Minor, Fortune, "Why Google’s Crackdown on Fake Medicine Is So Important," 9 Sep. 2019 Two New Jersey herpetologists exploring an area known for its timber rattlesnakes stumbled across a rare find: a newborn two-headed rattlesnake slithering across the ground. NBC News, "Two-headed baby rattlesnake found in New Jersey Pine Barrens," 6 Sep. 2019 One large rattlesnake even slithered his way onto a truck for a road trip that ended all the way at the home of a man in Louisiana. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Watch large snake slither around the front door of a Houston-area home," 25 July 2019 In the winter, the animals will den underground, commonly returning to the same spot year after year, and often commune there with other snake species, such as rat snakes and rattlesnakes. National Geographic, "Copperheads," 22 July 2019 Scorpions and rattlesnakes could strike at any time. Holly Yan, CNN, "A California mom fled the quakes with her special-needs sons -- twice. Now she says 'I'm done'," 8 July 2019 Note the warning about rattlesnakes: This is another reason to keep your dog on a leash. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Walks: Limekiln Canyon Park is an unexpected, shady oasis," 9 Aug. 2019 There’s not much between those cities except the dusty prairies and grasslands of the Great Plains, where the buffalo used to roam and where still the deer and the antelope play alongside prairie dogs, jackrabbits, and even rattlesnakes. Mary Ann Anderson, Twin Cities, "Lubbock is smack in middle of nowhere — and everywhere," 20 July 2019 As always in the Southern California mountains, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. Charles Fleming, latimes.com, "L.A. Walks: Explore an old winery site on a La Crescenta ramble," 12 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of rattlesnake

1624, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for rattlesnake

Last Updated

2 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for rattlesnake

The first known use of rattlesnake was in 1624

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More Definitions for rattlesnake



English Language Learners Definition of rattlesnake

: a poisonous American snake with a group of hard, loose pieces (called scales) at the end of its tail that it shakes to make a noise


rat·​tle·​snake | \ ˈra-tᵊl-ˌsnāk How to pronounce rattlesnake (audio) \

Kids Definition of rattlesnake

: a poisonous American snake with a rattle at the end of its tail


rat·​tle·​snake | \ ˈrat-ᵊl-ˌsnāk How to pronounce rattlesnake (audio) \

Medical Definition of rattlesnake

: any of the American pit vipers that have a series of horny interlocking joints at the end of the tail which make a sharp rattling sound when vibrated and that comprise the genera Sistrurus and Crotalus — see diamondback rattlesnake, tiger rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake

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More from Merriam-Webster on rattlesnake

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rattlesnake

Spanish Central: Translation of rattlesnake

Nglish: Translation of rattlesnake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rattlesnake

Comments on rattlesnake

What made you want to look up rattlesnake? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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