serpent

serpent, term sometimes used to designate the larger species of snakes in mythology and folklore, a name often applied to any sinuous, crawling creature, chiefly to a snake. No sea serpents have been discovered to substantiate the legends about them, although some accounts, such as stories of the so-called Loch Ness monster in Scotland, have received wide publicity. Large squids, octopuses, whales, dolphins, seals, and other sea animals are sometimes described as sea serpents. In religion and art, the serpent sometimes symbolizes Satan (Rev. 20.2), or the phallus (see phallic worship). See also dragon.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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