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"Anaconda" is often used to refer only to the green or common anaconda, Eunectes murinus.

An anaconda is a large, nonvenomous snake found in tropical South America. Although the name actually applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda, Eunectes murinus, which is one of the largest snakes in the world.

Anaconda may refer to:


Various theories exist regarding the origin of the name itself. The most widely accepted one suggests it was derived from the Sinhala henakandaya since the phonetic sounds are very similar. However, this name is used to refer to the brown vine snake, Ahaetulla pulverulenta, a slender, arboreal species that grows to five feet (152 cm) at most and feeds only on small vertebrates.[2] Another theory by Yule and Burnell (1886) is based on an entry in the Catalogue of Indian Serpents from the Leyden Museum (Ray, 1693) that reads: Anacondaia Zeylonensibus, id est Bubalorum aliorumque jumentorum membra conterens, meaning "the anacondaia of the Ceylonese, i.e. he that crushes the limbs of buffaloes and yoke beasts." Without a clear Sinhala connection, they suggest one from the Tamil language instead: anai-kondra (anaik-konda), meaning "which killed an elephant.”[1][2] Per National Geographic, the word anaconda comes from the Tamil word anaikolra, which means elephant killer.[3]

The name was first used in the English language in 1768 by R. Edwin in a colorful description of a large snake found in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), most likely a reticulated python, Python reticulatus. The account, which explains how the snake crushes and devours tigers, is full of popular misconceptions, but was much read at the time, and so gave rise to the myth of the anaconda of Ceylon.[2]


  1. ^ a b Oxford. 1991. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Second Edition. Clarendon Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-861258-3.
  2. ^ a b c Boyle R. 2008. “The Anaconda of Ceylon”: Derivations and the myths at Sunday Times Lanka. Accessed 13 December 2008.
  3. ^ "National Geographic News @". 2002-10-17. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 

Further reading

  • Ray J. 1693. Synopsis methodica animalium quadrupedum et serpentini generis. Vulgarium natas characteristicas, rariorum descriptiones integras exhibens: cum historiis & observationibus anatomicis perquam curiosis. Præmittuntur nonnulla de animalium in genere, sensu, generatione, divisione, &c. - pp. [1-14], 1-336, [1-9]. Londini. (Smith & Walford).
  • Yule H, Burnell AC. 1886. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical, and Discursive. London: J. Murray. pp. 133–134. (reprinted in 1903 by W. Crooke).