Student Dictionary

2 entries found for cobra.
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Main Entry: co·bra
Pronunciation: primarystresskomacr-brschwa
Function: noun
Etymology: from Portuguese cobra (de capello) "snake (with a hood)," from Latin colubra "snake"
: any of several poisonous Asian and African snakes that when excited expand the skin of the neck into a hood; also : any of several related African snakes
Word History During the early part of the 16th century, Portuguese traders took control of cities along India's western coast. During this period of contact, the Portuguese became familiar with some of India's animal life. One animal they noticed was a poisonous snake that could expand the skin of its neck to form a hood. The Portuguese called this snake cobra de capello, meaning "snake with a hood." The Portuguese name was first borrowed into English in the 17th century. By the 19th century the name had become shortened to cobra.
[cobra illustration]

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