Basilisk

Basilisk

ˈbasəˌlisk

Noun

  • A mythical reptile with a lethal gaze or breath, hatched by a serpent from a cock’s egg.
  • A long, slender, and mainly bright green lizard found in Central America, the male of which has a crest running from the head to the tail. It can swim well, and is able to run on its hind legs across the surface of water.

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Example Sentences

“We proposed the basilisk as our new school mascot because of its fierce reputation.”

“As the local folklore tells, the cave of treasures was protected by a 10-foot basilisk.”

“I thought it was a gecko, but the guide informed me that it was a basilisk.”

Word Origin

Greek, 13th century

Why this word?

Found in tales of folklore from Pliny the Elder, medieval European accounts, and modern fantasy books, the basilisk is a dangerous mythological creature, often presented as the king of snakes. The origins and methods of defeating this fearsome reptile vary by storyteller, but they all describe a lethal gaze. While the mythical beast is a snake, the name “basilisk” was borrowed for a real-life lizard that can run on its legs along the water. No danger is to be found from the Central American basilisk.

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