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basilisk


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A mythical reptile with a lethal gaze or breath, hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg. In figurative or allusive use, the idea of a lethal gaze is paramount, as in basilisk eye, basilisk stare.

The name comes ultimately from Greek basiliskos ‘little king, serpent’, from basileus ‘king’, and Pliny suggests that it is so called from a spot, resembling a crown, on its head; medieval writers gave it ‘a certain comb or coronet’.


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