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Aug 10, 2022
This week’s theme
Words coined after animals

This week’s words
cynical
lemming
serpentine
jackrabbit
chevachee

serpentine
M’zab Valley, Algeria
Photo: NASA

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

serpentine

PRONUNCIATION:
(SUHR-pen-teen/tyn)

MEANING:
adjective:1. Of or relating to a snake.
 2. Winding, twisting, or coiling.
 3. Intricate; cunning; treacherous.
verb intr.:To move or lie in a winding course.
noun:1. Something winding, twisting, or coiling.
 2. A dull green mineral with a texture resembling the skin of a snake.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin serpens, present participle of serpere (to creep). Earliest documented use: 1400.

USAGE:
“In addition to her famous serpentine coiffure, Medusa was said to have two kinds of blood coursing through her veins: on her left side, her blood was lethal; on her right side, it was life-giving.”
Jerome Groopman; Pumped; The New Yorker; Jan 14, 2019.

“For almost five hours you then fly over a dark green carpet festooned with serpentine rivers, some a muddy brown, others inky black.”
Murder in the Amazon; The Economist (London, UK); Jun 25, 2022.

“But while Mr Yeltsin may look like the innocent flower, his folksy -- even crude -- exterior conceals the serpentine heart of a cunning party functionary who rose to the top of the ruthless Soviet hierarchy.”
Chrystia Freeland; Crown Prince in Command; Financial Times (London, UK); Jun 22, 1996.

See more usage examples of serpentine in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I like the pluralism of modernity; it doesn't threaten me or my faith. And if one's faith is dependent on being reinforced in every aspect of other people's lives, then it is a rather insecure faith, don't you think? -Andrew Sullivan, author and editor (b. 10 Aug 1963)

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