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 During the shoot, Anna heard screams and discovered an uninvited visitor had invaded their set — a large rattlesnake. Diane Bell Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Billboard compares singer Anna Vaus to Taylor Swift," 13 Apr. 2021 The release says the man was concerned about children in the area and tried to catch the rattlesnake himself. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "California man learns tough lesson after trying to pick up rattlesnake with barbecue tongs," 22 Apr. 2021 As their various names suggest, the worms thrash and snap their bodies intensely like a rattlesnake when touched or held, can spring into the air and even shed their tail to escape, PBS Wisconsin reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "Highly Invasive Jumping Worms Have Spread to 15 States," 22 Apr. 2021 There are 36 rattlesnake species, 13 of which are present in Arizona. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, "It's rattlesnake season in Phoenix: Here's how to stay safe while hiking and in your yard," 1 Apr. 2021 Don't miss the Rattlesnake Bar, whose menu items include East Texas smoked rattlesnake and corn fritters with venom sauce. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, "Dallas Travel Guide," 25 Feb. 2021 But the sidewinding rattlesnake, which comes from a different branch of the viper family tree, still has a few vestigial belly spikes as well as pits. New York Times, "The Skin-Deep Physics of Sidewinder Snakes," 1 Feb. 2021 The new mascot, the rattlesnake, is sacred to the Kumeyaay, who frequently depict the animal on baskets, Elliott-Santos said. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego Unified changes name of Junipero Serra High School, removes conquistador mascot," 9 Mar. 2021 His painting of the northern mockingbird shows a nest attacked by a rattlesnake. Marissa Fessenden, Scientific American, "Audubon's Birds Live On Long after His Death [Slide Show]," 17 May 2013

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

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rattlesnake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rattlesnake. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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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