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 Herpetologist Melissa Amarello, executive director of the nonprofit Advocates for Snake Preservation, has observed communal dens and parental care in rattlesnakes. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Garter snakes are surprisingly social, forming ‘friendships’ with fellow serpents," 4 May 2020 Like a swarm of rattlesnakes trying to escape their den, the first rat launches itself off the hummock toward the safety of the Roseau cane, revealing five or six others beneath. Gerry Bethge, Outdoor Life, "Hunting Nutria in the Louisiana Bayou," 21 Apr. 2020 An array of live rattlesnakes will be on display — safely contained, of course — at Cave Creek Regional Park. Nicole Ludden, azcentral, "Make this Valentine's Day one to remember. Here are lots of ideas throughout Phoenix," 4 Feb. 2020 The shaded boulder 50 yards ahead looks like a hunched black bear, and the stick on the ground in the leaves looks like a rattlesnake at first glance. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Want a peaceful, picturesque way to stay active while social distancing? Fly fishing could be the cure," 7 Apr. 2020 At 10 feet, the Ruger shot tightly enough to bust a clay or reliably kill a rattlesnake or other small critter, though the pattern was noticeably less dense than those run through the Henry. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "The Henry Garden Gun is a Handy .22-Caliber Smoothbore," 1 Apr. 2020 What was hiding off the trail was a venomous rattlesnake. Alicia Lee, CNN, "A California couple was heartbroken to say goodbye to their beloved dog, Marley. So they cloned him," 27 Feb. 2020 Maybe up to three of those are rattlesnakes, said WildCare spokeswoman Alison Hermance. Adrian Rodriguez, The Mercury News, "North Bay rattlesnake sightings have residents on edge," 27 Aug. 2019 On the street, the adaptive dampers provide a smooth ride over the open road yet can firm up nicely when the pavement begins to twist into the shape of a rattlesnake. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Our 2020 BMW M340i Is a Return to Form," 24 Mar. 2020

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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The first known use of rattlesnake was in 1624

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Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rattlesnake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rattlesnake. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for rattlesnake


How to pronounce rattlesnake (audio)

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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