The serpents are mostly long and slender, and move partly by bending the body into undulations or folds and pressing them against objects, and partly by using the free edges of their ventral scales to cling to rough surfaces. Many species glide swiftly over the ground, some burrow in the earth, others live in trees. A few are entirely aquatic, and swim rapidly. See ophidia, and fang.
(Science: chemistry) Pharaoh's serpent, mercuric sulphocyanate, a combustible white substance which in burning gives off a poisonous vapor and leaves a peculiar brown voluminous residue which is expelled in a serpentine from. It is employed as a scientific toy.
Origin: F, fr. L. Serpens, -entis (sc. Bestia), fr. Serpens, p. Pr. Of serpere to creep; akin to Gr, Skr. Sarp, and perhaps to L. Repere, E. Reptile. Cf. Herpes.