rat·​tle·​snake | \ˈra-tᵊl-ˌsnāk \

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

Godwin was on her way back to her truck when the grey-speckled rattlesnake, without warning or making a sound, bit six-month-old Todd. Nathan J. Fish, azcentral, "'Hero' puppy takes on rattlesnake bite, saving owner, during walk," 2 July 2018 Paul Morantz, who was acting as an attorney at the time, was bitten by the rattlesnake and rushed to the hospital. Anna Orso, Philly.com, "Following Annapolis shooting, journalists contemplate angry readers, death threats and backlash," 29 June 2018 In 2016, a Fort Worth police officer used tongs on a pole to remove a rattlesnake from a homeowner's front porch. Stephen English, star-telegram, "A Texas boy was playing with his toys. He was bitten by a rattlesnake hiding in them," 27 June 2018 In the case of a rattlesnake, officials say maintaining your distance is key to avoiding a bite. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Warning: Snakes might be hiding in your pool noodles, fire department says," 26 June 2018 Police say the crocodile, alligators and a rattlesnake were transferred to the Maryland Reptile Conservation in Dickerson. Washington Post, "Man pleads guilty to illegal possession of venomous snakes," 15 May 2018 Jennifer Trask uses rattlesnake and python ribs and nails to make a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace. Thomas Hine, Philly.com, "Brandywine River Museum's new exhibit finds scary beauty in the realm of decay," 5 July 2018 In an unusual and downright terrifying incident, one local resident went to use their pool noodles and found a rattlesnake and its babies tucked away inside. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Snakes Could Be Hiding in Pool Noodles, Arizona Fire Dept. Warns," 27 June 2018 The potential long-term effect on populations of rattlesnakes and other snakes remains uncertain. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "This fatal disease is disfiguring endangered Indiana snakes," 17 May 2018

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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Last Updated

30 Oct 2018

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The first known use of rattlesnake was in 1624

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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 \

Kids Definition of rattlesnake

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


rat·​tle·​snake | \ˈrat-ᵊl-ˌsnāk \

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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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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