c. 1600, formed (with unetymological -n) from Middle English wyver (c. 1300), from Anglo-French wivre, from Old North French form of Old French guivre "snake," from Latin vipera "viper" (see viper). In heraldry, a winged dragon with eagle's feet and a serpent's barbed tail.
Entries linking to wyvern
early 15c., from Old French vipere, earlier in English as vipera (c. 1200), directly from Latin vipera "viper, snake, serpent," contraction of *vivipera, from vivus "alive, living" (from PIE root *gwei- "to live") + parire "bring forth, bear" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, bring forth"). In common with many snake species in cooler climates, in most cases the viper's eggs are kept inside the mother until hatching.
Applied to persons of spiteful character at least since 1590s. The only venomous snake found in Great Britain, but not especially dangerous. The word replaced native adder. "The flesh of the viper was formerly regarded as possessing great nutritive or restorative properties, and was frequently used medicinally" [OED]; hence viper-wine, wine medicated with some kind of extract from vipers, used 17c. by "gray-bearded gallants" in a bid "to feele new lust, and youthfull flames agin." [Massinger]
also *gweie-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to live."
It forms all or part of: abiogenesis; aerobic; amphibian; anaerobic; azo-; azoic; azotemia; bio-; biography; biology; biome; bionics; biopsy; biota; biotic; cenobite; Cenozoic; convivial; couch-grass; epizoic; epizoon; epizootic; macrobiotic; Mesozoic; microbe; Protozoa; protozoic; quick; quicken; quicksand; quicksilver; quiver (v.) "to tremble;" revive; survive; symbiosis; viable; viand; viper; vita; vital; vitamin; victuals; viva; vivace; vivacious; vivarium; vivid; vivify; viviparous; vivisection; whiskey; wyvern; zodiac; Zoe; zoetrope; zoic; zoo-; zoolatry; zoology; zoon; zoophilia; zoophobia; zooplankton.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit jivah "alive, living;" Old Persian *jivaka- "alive," Middle Persian zhiwak "alive;" Greek bios "one's life, course or way of living, lifetime," zoe "animal life, organic life;" Old English cwic, cwicu "living, alive;" Latin vivus "living, alive," vita "life;" Old Church Slavonic zivo "to live;" Lithuanian gyvas "living, alive," gyvata "(eternal) life;" Old Irish bethu "life," bith "age;" Welsh byd "world."
updated on October 28, 2016