Snake in the Grass

Meaning

What does Snake in the Grass mean?

Snake in the grass is a popular idiomatic phrase, used to refer to a treacherous, meddlesome person, or and undisclosed, unknown danger.

It is also the thing, displayed on the famous Gadsden Flag, along with the words Don’t Tread On Me, often parodied as No step on snek.

Origin

What's the origin of Snake in the Grass?

Although it is unclear where exactly the expression comes from, snakes hiding in the grass, posing an unsuspected danger is a concept that has been present for most of the history of humanity.

One of the earliest literary examples of the trope can be found in Publius Vergilius Maro’s “Eclogues” from the 1st century BC.

The first English language example of the phrase “Snake in the Grass” can be found as the title of Charles Leslie’s 1697 book.

Spread & Usage

How did Snake in the Grass spread?

Since the 17th century, “Snake in the Grass” has grown to become a true idiomatic phrase, used in a vast array of contexts, especially in literature and drama.

It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2005, with a large number of other entries following.

“Snake in the Grass” was brought to the forefront of popular thought in 2022, when the reality series, reminiscent of Big Brother and Survivor was first aired on July 26th, 2022, under the title “Snake in the Grass”.

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