Idioms are often used in English conversation and they can help you sound more natural. My goal is to provide as many great idiom resources as possible to my readers. Today’s blog post on Idioms With Snake will introduce some more common English idioms and expressions that you can use right away.
- Snake Pit
- Snake Oil
- Snake The Drain
- Snake Eyes
- Snake In The Grass
- Lower Than A Snake’s Belly
- Snakes And Ladders
In this post, you will find idioms, expressions, phrasal verbs, compound nouns and other ways to use the word snake. As always, each entry is used in a real sentence so that you can hear the snake idiom used in a natural example.
The word snake as a noun and a verb
The word snake has a noun form and a verb form.
Snake – NOUN
a reptile with a very long thin body and no legs.
- There was an empty field behind my school that no one played in. It was full of snakes.
- Some people keep snakes as pets. My neighbor has a 2 m long Burmese python that he keeps in a large aquarium. It’s cool but a little bit scary.
Did you know?
In 2011, according to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, there were 1.15 million pet snakes in the U.S.
The noun snake is often paired with other nouns like-
bite – snakebite [A wound that you get when a poisonous snake bites you]
- He was rushed to the hospital with a snakebite. The hikers think it was a rattlesnake.
*Find the other meaning of snakebite below!
charmer – snake charmer [A person who hypnotizes a snake (usually a cobra) with music, often done as a street performance]
- I watched a snake charmer on the street when I visited New Delhi, it was really cool.
handler – snake handler [A snake handler is a person who professionally handles and works with snakes. Snake handlers typically work in snake farms alongside scientists, zookeepers, and animal control services. SOURCE]
Origin of the word SNAKE
The English word snake comes from Old English snaca, itself from Proto-Germanic *snak-an (cf. Germanic Schnake ‘ring snake’, Swedish snok ‘grass snake’), from Proto-Indo-European root *(s)nēg-o- ‘to crawl to creep’, which also gave sneak as well as Sanskrit nāgá ‘snake’. SOURCE
Snake – VERB
to move like a snake, in long twisting curves; to go in a particular direction in long twisting curves
- In Tokyo, there are small buses that snake their way through narrow residential streets. I’m always amazed by the skill of these drivers, I can’t believe how they navigate the buses down these narrow roads.
- The dusty road snaked its way up the mountain winding left and right.
Snake The Drain
We can also use the verb snake when we use a tool to clean a pipe or a drain called a drain snake. (Sometimes called a plumber’s snake.)
A plumber’s snake or drain snake is a slender, flexible auger used to dislodge clogs in plumbing. SOURCE
- My kitchen sink is clogged, we need to call a plumber to come and snake the drain.
By JJonahJackalope – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Snake words with two meanings
Snakebite noun LINK
① a wound that you get when a poisonous snake bites you
- Many hikers come to these mountains but they have to be careful. There are poisonous snakes that live along the hiking path and we’ve already had one death from a snakebite this year.
② an alcoholic drink made of equal parts of beer and cider
- My friends and I would buy a big jug of cider and a case of beer to take camping. At the campsite, we would sit around the fire, drink snakebites, and tell stories all night.
Snake Pit noun LINK
① a hole in the ground in which snakes are kept
- In the story, the king ordered the criminal be thrown into a snake pit as his punishment.
② a place that is extremely unpleasant or dangerous
- My friend took me to the new club downtown on Saturday. It was terrible, the place was a snake pit and I’m never going back.
Did you know?
Some species of snakes can survive even if they don’t eat for 6 months! (I get hungry after about 2 hours.)
Check out this list and learn some new idioms that native speakers really use. If you can think of some idioms that I left out, please tell me in the comments!
Idioms with Snake
The word snake by itself can be used to describe a bad person, someone who you shouldn’t trust.
- I saw Simon at the shopping mall today flirting with a bunch of girls even though he’s dating someone in my class. That guy is a total snake.
When you roll two six-sided dice both land on the number one.
If someone says they rolled snake eyes or came up snake eyes it means that they had the worst possible result, their effort was totally unsuccessful.
- I took a chance and invested a lot of money in cryptocurrency but sadly I came up snake eyes.
Snake In The Grass
a snake (in the grass) – This has a similar meaning to just calling someone a snake but the difference is because they are in the grass they’re hard to notice. Maybe they’re pretending to be your friend but actually, they are someone who shouldn’t be trusted.
- He and I had a long relationship and I thought we were friends, but when I understood what his true plans were I realized he was just a snake in the grass all along.
Snake Oil LINK
[uncountable] (especially North American English, informal)
something, for example medicine, that somebody tries to sell you, but that is not effective or useful
- The doctor has been accused of selling snake oil to unsuspecting people. I never trusted that guy.
We can call someone who sells snake oil a snake oil salesman. This is often used with people that we just don’t trust.
- He has a long history of being a snake oil salesman.
Origin of Snake Oil
Oil from Chinese water snakes has been used for hundreds of years in Chinese traditional medicine to treat joint pain. The use of snake oil in the United States may have originated with Chinese railway laborers in the mid-19th century. Chinese water snake oil had real benefits but SNAKE OIL was soon used for other, fake remedies that bad people treid to sell. SOURCE
Lower Than A Snake’s Belly
Something that is very terrible (so low) It’s as low as possible. We can use this to describe a person or an action.
- Watch out for Fred, that guy is lower than a snake’s belly.
- I can’t believe he did that to you, that’s lower than a snake’s belly.
Did you know?
The smallest known snake, discovered in 2008 in Barbados, is just under four inches (10 cm) long and slim as a spaghetti noodle.
Snakes And Ladders LINK
Snakes And Ladders is a children’s game played on a special board with pictures of snakes and ladders on it. Players move their pieces up the ladders to go forward and down the snakes to go back.
This is a popular game around the world with different names or different versions in other countries.
How about where you live? Is this game well-known where you’re from? Does it have a different name? Tell me in the comments.
Snakes in Movies
Have you seen the 2006 action-adventure movie Snakes on a Plane? IMDb
- An FBI agent takes on a plane full of deadly venomous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.
Watch the Snakes on a Plane movie trailer below.
If you can think of any snake idioms or expressions that I left out, please tell me in the comments!
More GREAT Idiom posts