"study of reptiles," 1816, from French herpétologie (18c.), coined from Greek herpeton "reptile," literally "creeping thing," from herpein "to creep" (see serpent) + French -logie (see -logy). Related: Herpetologist; herpetological.
c. 1300, "limbless reptile," also the tempter in Genesis iii.1-5, from Old French serpent, sarpent "snake, serpent" (12c.), from Latin serpentem (nominative serpens) "snake; creeping thing," also the name of a constellation, from present participle of serpere "to creep," from PIE *serp- "to crawl, creep" (source also of Sanskrit sarpati "creeps," sarpah "serpent;" Greek herpein "to creep," herpeton "serpent;" Albanian garper "serpent").
Used figuratively of things spiral or regularly sinuous, such as a type of musical instrument (1730). Serpent's tongue as figurative of venomous or stinging speech is from mistaken medieval notion that the serpent's tongue was its "sting." Serpent's tongue also was a name given to fossil shark's teeth (c. 1600).
word-forming element meaning "a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine, theory, science," from Greek -logia (often via French -logie or Medieval Latin -logia), from -log-, combining form of legein "to speak, tell;" thus, "the character or deportment of one who speaks or treats of (a certain subject);" from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak (to 'pick out words')." Often via Medieval Latin -logia, French -logie. In philology "love of learning; love of words or discourse," apology, doxology, analogy, trilogy, etc., Greek logos "word, speech, statement, discourse" is directly concerned.
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Definitions of herpetology from WordNet
the branch of zoology concerned with reptiles and amphibians;