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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Serpent is a synonym for snake.

Serpent and similar can also mean:




Films and plays and books

See also

  • All pages beginning with "Serpent"
  • All pages with titles containing "Serpent"

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SERPENT (Lat. serpens, creeping, from serpere; cf. "reptile" from repere, Gr. g pirew), a synonym for reptile or snake (see Reptile, and Snakes), now generally used only of dangerous varieties, or metaphorically. See also Serpent -Worship below.

In music the serpent (Fr. serpent, Ger. Serpent, Schlangenrohr, Ital. serpentone) is an obsolete bass wind instrument derived from the old wooden cornets (Zinken), and the progenitor of the bass-horn, Russian bassoon and ophicleide. The serpent is composed of two pieces of wood, hollowed out and cut to the desired shape. They are so joined together by gluing as to form a conical tube of wide calibre with a diameter varying from a little over half an inch at the crook to nearly 4 in. at the wider end. The tube is covered with leather to ensure solidity. The upper extremity ends with a bent brass tube or crook, to which the cupshaped mouthpiece is attached; the lower end does not expand to form a bell, a peculiarity the serpent shared with the cornets. The tube is pierced laterally with six holes, the first three of which are covered with the fingers of the right hand and the others with those of the left. When all the holes are thus closed the instrument will produce the following sounds, of which the first is the fundamental and the rest the harmonic series founded thereon: Cg Each of the holes on being successively opened gives the same series of harmonics on a new fundamental, thus producing a chromatic compass of three octaves by means of six holes only. The holes are curiously disposed along the tube for convenience in reaching them with the fingers; in consequence they are of very small diameter, and this affects the intonation and timbre of the instrument adversely. With the application of keys to the serpent, which made it possible to place the holes approximately in the correct theoretical position, whereby the diameter of the holes was also made proportional to that of the tube, this defect was remedied and the timbre improved.

The serpent was, according to Abbe Lebceuf,' the outcome of experiments made on the cornon, the bass cornet or Zinke, by Edme Guillaume, canon of Auxerre, in 1590. The invention at once proved a success, and the new bass became a valuable addition to church concerted music, more especially in France, in spite of the serpent's harsh, unpleasant tone. Mersenne (1636) describes and figures the serpent of his day in detail, but it was evidently unknown to Praetorius (1618). During the 18th century the construction of the instrument underwent many improvements, the tendency being to make the unwieldy windings more compact. At the beginning of the 19th century the open holes had been discarded, and as many as fourteen or seventeen keys disposed conveniently along the tube. Gerber, in his Lexikon (1790), states that in 1780 a musician of Lille, named Regibo, making further experiments on the serpent, produced a bass horn, giving it the shape of the bassoon for greater portability; and Frichot, a French refugee in London, introduced a variant of brass which rapidly won favour under the name of "bass horn" or "basson russe" in English military bands. On being introduced on the continent of Europe, this instrument was received into general use and gave a fresh impetus to experiments with basses for military bands, which resulted first in the ophicleide (q.v.) and ultimately in the valuable invention of the piston or valve.

Further information as to the technique and construction of the serpent may be gained from Joseph Frohlich's excellent treatise 1 See 1Vlemoire concernant l'histoire ecclesiastique et civile d'Auxerre (Paris, 1848), ii. 189.

on all the instruments of the orchestra in his day (Bonn, 1811), where clear and accurate practical drawings of the instruments are given. (K. S.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Latin Latin serpens (snake), from the verb serpo (to creep), from Proto-Indo-European *serp-.





serpent (plural serpents)

  1. A snake.
  2. (music) A musical instrument in the brass family, whose shape is suggestive of a snake (Wikipedia article).

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also





  1. snake





serpent n.

  1. snake
  2. an unpleasant, spiteful person



Latin serpentem, accusative form of serpens.



serpent m. (plural serpents)

  1. snake

Derived terms


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on Dan (Gen 49:17; see Prov 30:18; Jam 3:7; Jer 8:17). (See also Adder.)

This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy (Lk 10:19).

The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history of the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3). It has been well remarked regarding this temptation: "A real serpent was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1) from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here displayed. (2.) In the New Testament it is both directly asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our first parents into sin (Jn 8:44; Rom 16:20; 2Cor 11:3, 2Cor 11:14; Rev 12:9; Rev 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.

This article needs to be merged with SERPENT (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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