Meaning of Idiom ‘Snake in the Grass’
A snake in the grass is a deceitful, treacherous and sneaky person; one who pretends to be your friend while actually being your enemy in secret. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
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Examples Of Use
“Don’t trust Alex. He may pretend to be your friend but he’s a snake in the grass who wants your job.”
“I can’t believe she’s been seeing my ex-boyfriend this whole time while pretending to be my friend. She’s just a snake in the grass.”
“He hated you all these years and now you’re his best friend? Don’t you suspect he’s a snake in the grass looking to get close to you so he can hurt you even worse?”
Alluding to a poisonous serpent hidden in tall grass, this metaphor was used as early as 37 B.C. by the Roman poet Virgil:
“Qui legitis flores et humi nascientia fraga,
frigidus, o pueri, fugite hinc, latet anguis in herba.”
This translates to “You boys that pick flowers and strawberries near the ground, run away from here, a cold snake hides in the grass.”
In English, it first appeared as the title of a book by Charles Leslie in 1696: Snake in the Grass: or, Satan Transformed into an Angel of Light.
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