Gabriel Knight Omnipedia
Advertisement

Background[]

Snakes are legless reptiles. Some snakes kill their prey with poison, some by constriction.[1] Toussaint Gervais sees snakes around the St. Louis Cemetery 1 all the time, but most are not poisonous.[2]


One can look up facts and information about snakes in the shelves of St. George's Books. Gabriel has a copies of books on snakes and reptiles for sell.[3]


Behind the scenes[]

Poisonous snakes are a reoccurring theme in through out many sierra games, particularly in fantasy and mystery games. See King's Quest, Quest for Glory, Conquests, Laura Bow, etc.

Poisonous snakes are not uncommon in mysteries, classic literature, horror, and fantasy from which Sierra games are often inspired. Be it from 'poisoning' via venom or snakes being poisonous to eat. See Mohammed with the Magic Finger, The Story of Zoulvisia, or The Snake Prince: in Andrew Lang's Fairy Books. See also Oleg: the Prince Who Was Killed by His Favorite Horse and Charlegmagne and the Snake. The Twelve Brothers in Grimm's Fairy Tales. Sinbad had to deal with poisonous snakes as well.[4], and the story of Riki Tiki Tavi. The use of 'poisonous' to describe snakes and other creatures with venom appears commonly in Gothic literature as well; In The Adventure of the Speckled Band the titular band is a 'poisonous snake', which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson discover as the weapon in a crime..[5] In Bram Stoker's The Lair of the White Worm the worm in question is yet another 'poisonous snake' (not even a beneficial white snake), venomous only appears once but more as a description of malevolence (rather than literal venom). Even Dracula is said to be poisonous or spread poison to his victims through his bite and blood. Poisonous snakes also appear in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft as well.[6][7][8] Even the King James Bible uses poisonous/poison when referring to various kinds of poisonous snakes (only uses 'venom' once in one context as synonym of poison). Poisonous Snake is also a common DND creature as well (a 'tiny beast').[9] Notably speaking during middle ages, medieval, dark ages, and early renaissance, poison and venom were interchangeable terms, and venom even came from the Latin word for poison: 'venenum' (both largely having link to 'potions' and 'imbibing'). So the usage of the 'literary' "poisonous" seems rather fitting (its not a zoology or veterinary textbook, its a 'high fantasy/fairy tale game').

Poisonous snakes are brought up in GK1. There is an anal-retentive and overly pedantic internet discussion of 'venomous vs. poisonous' which is a controversy, but in reality should be only a non-controversy. Some have accused Roberta Williams (developer of King's Quest series) of being unintelligent or ignorant for use of these terms in the games... But they themselves overlook other grammatically valid uses of the terms in other contexts, medical field and other fields of sciences. They seem unaware of this kind of terminology appears in most Sierra games, and fits genres they are in most of the time.

In fact to argue there is only a 'single' definition for words, and that other definitions are wrong is an example of a false dichotomy fallacy; Two choices are presented, when more might exist, and the claim is made that one is false and one is true - or one is acceptable and the other is not. Often, there are other alternatives which haven’t been considered, or both choices might be false or true.[10] As well as an "Appeal to Definition" fallacy (Using one definition of a term as evidence that term cannot have another meaning, expanded meaning, or even conflicting meaning).[11]

In modern "biological" (Some biological medicine, particularly veterinary and zoology often distinguish a poison from a toxin, and from a venom) and most modern "herpetology" (not necessarily medical or other science fields[12][13][14][15]), these are used as forms of how the toxin is administered. Poisonous referring to touching or ingestion, while venomous refers to injection, and the argument there is no overlap (each being a totally different kind of 'substance'). However, other fields (medical and other science fields) argue that that venom is a subset of poisons, and so poisonous is technically true, while those of the other school of thought; argue that makes the definition of poison too broad, and that having more specific meanings for different terms is more useful. This is seemingly a more modern argument however found in the 21st century, as many nature and even some 'science' books from the 1500s-1990s used 'poisonous', and 'poisonous' also appears in poetic or literary usages even within the Bible and William Shakespeare.

Thanks for that. The adult snake lies in the ditch. The young snake that escaped will in time become poisonous and threatening, but for now he has no fangs. Get out of here. I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.-Macbeth[16]

Paracelsus expressed the classic toxicology maxim "All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison." This is often condensed to: "The dose makes the poison" or in Latin, "Sola dosis facit venenum".


Jan Freeman’s research into it in her book Write it Right.... About this issue, she writes:

“As usual, Bierce would like to fence the overlapping words into separate pens. But while venomous does describe rattlesnakes and other animals that poison victims with a bite or sting, poisonous has always been a broader term. Samuel Johnson knew both words, but in his Dictionary (1755) he referred to ‘a poisonous serpent,’ ‘a poisonous insect,’ and ‘a poisonous reptile.'”
It’s not just Johnson, either. The Oxford English Dictionary cites The Indian Queen, a play by Robert Howard and John Dryden (he of “no final prepositions” fame), with “poisonous Vipers” in 1665. Google Books can supply you a vast array of hits for “poisonous snakes” from the 1800s, if you need convincing of the lineage. Here’s my favorite, as it’s very clearly talking about snakes with venomous bites; it’s written by someone studying the venom of the snakes, so this isn’t some casual imprecise usage but the considered usage of a professional; and it’s from 1839, so there’s no arguing that this is some sloppy modern usage.
In the case of venomous and poisonous, this oughtn’t to be surprising, as their stems have this same relationship. A venom is one kind of poison, and similarly, being venomous is one way that an animal can be poisonous. The biggest clue that we aren’t all wrong for using poisonous in place of venomous is that it’s very rare to see the opposite extension. When people talk about “venomous plants”, for instance, they’re usually talking about plants that literally do sting, like stinging nettles or the gympie gympie. If people are just stupid or underinformed, they ought to make their errors symmetrically; here, the supposed error really only goes one way. (I’d expect asymmetric errors if one were much rarer than the other, but venomous isn’t particularly rare.)[17]

Venom is defined in the medical sense:

"venom (ven´әm) a poison, especially one secreted by a serpent, insect, or other animal. adj., ven´omous., adj. [18]

The act of dieing from snake venom is known as "Snake poisoning" or "snake venom poisoning", which is another indication that 'poisonous snake' is not incorrect by certain definitions of poison.[19]

Note: Even most dictionaries outside of very specific biology textbooks don't make a designated difference between "poison" and "venom", with additional caveat, that all 'venoms' are poisonous, but not all poisons are 'venom'.[20][21]

Though there may have been ancient differences between the two in earliest definitions, but lost over time (later resurrected by modern biologists).[22][23] In Latin, venēmum meant "magical herb, poison, etc". From a thesaurus perspective "venom" and "poison' are synonyms (one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses).[24][25]

synonym study for poison
1. Poison, toxin, venom are terms for any substance that injures the health or destroys life when absorbed into the system, especially of a higher animal. Poison is the general word: a poison for insects. A toxin is a poison produced by an organism; it is especially used in medicine in reference to disease-causing bacterial secretions: A toxin produces diphtheria. Venom is especially used of the poisons secreted by certain animals, usually injected by bite or sting: the venom of a snake.[26]


To be too pedantic about the 'definition' is to overlook other definitions found in the same language (every word in English language often has more than one 'common' 'definition'[27]). For example definition of 'vegetable' has 'culinary' uses and 'scientific/'technical uses'. A tomato or cucumbers may be a technical "fruits", but is a 'culinary' vegetables as they are often used in 'savory' vegetable dishes and salads.

Also definitions of "poison' are split into three types... Noun, Verb & Adjective. In the case of "adjective" poison and venom have the same meaning.[28] The root word for both poison and venom, "poi" and "wen" both originally had to do with 'injesting' or 'drinking' such as in potions.

The respective IE roots of the terms "venom" and "poison", "wen" and "poi" refer to desire or the act of ingesting liquids. The origin of the term, "venom", is associated with polytheistic cults that emphasized attainment of desires sometimes assisted by "love potions", a term later interpolated with the word, "poison". Specific interpretation of the term, venom, has varied since its first probable use in the mid-Thirteenth Century[29]

The act of receiving venom, aka envenoming, means to 'make poisonous', to be 'poisoned'.[30]. Envenomation is the proper term which means 'an act of instance poisoning by venom (as by snake or spider)'.[31][32] Oxford Dictionary defines envenomate's definition as "Zoology Medicine: (of a snake, spider, insect, etc.) poison by biting or stinging."[33] So literally speaking in the round about way, a snake that has envenomed its prey or victim through envenomation has poisoned its victim with venom. Calling something venomous or poisonous (i.e. 'venomous snake' or 'poisonous snake') at that point is semantics.

Outside of technical biology and herpetology field textbooks, there are many medical texts and journal articles which refer to 'technical terms' of 'snake poisoning'/'poisonous snakes'[34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43] It is 'Poison Control Centers/Poison Centers' that treat venomous bites.

In conclusion, poison is a toxin that gets into the body via swallowing, inhaling or absorption through the skin. ... Venom is a specialized type of poison that has evolved for a specific purpose. It is actively injected via a bite or sting. In other words poisons and venoms are both toxins, and venom is a type of poison. As noted venom comes from the Latin word for "poison".[44]

Summary: Poisonous and venomous aren’t totally distinct. It’s fine to call a snake poisonous, even if it’s its venom that’s dangerous. But it’s rare (and generally incorrect) to call something with a non-venom poison venomous. This is how it has been for hundreds of years in English. Objections to the subset relationship between poisonous and venomous are pretty rare, and outside of specialized contexts, pretty unfounded.[45][46]


Besides, its more than a little insane to focus on such a pedantic nitpick in a literary and fantasy setting. It shouldn't have to be pointed out that we are discussing horror/psychology/detective settings (where such literary, and poetic language are generally used) not zoology lab environment, and a language (English) that has more than one meaning (and overlapping definitions), and where even science and medical textbooks are not that pedantic or specific. One will find this same situation in Laura Bow series as well... and in Quest for Glory as well, where most 'poison'/'venom' are used interchangeably, and most 'poisoning' comes from creatures or monsters with venom. It contains its fair share of 'poisonous spiders (and poisonous bat-spiders...)'/'poisonous bugs'/'poisonous scorpions'/'poisonous snakes (flying snakes at that)'/'poisonous fish'/'poisonous wyverns'/'poisonous demons', and 'poisonous plants (venomous and poisonous)'. Where there is no, "anti-venom", but "poison cure' (pills and potions) are a 'universal poison antidote'. Poisonous snakes (cobra) and 'poisonous rats', also appear in Conquests of Camelot as well in the desert and in catacombs. Poison is only curable via an elixer. Laura Bow II mentions both poisonous snakes, and venomous snakes.

External Links[]

References[]

  1. Narrator (GK1)
  2. Toussaint Gervais (GK1) "Snakes? I see snakes around here all the time. Most of them aren't poisonous, 'course."
  3. The top shelf contains books on animals, including snakes and other reptiles.
  4. https://books.google.com/books?id=FBasDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT242&lpg=PT242&dq=saint+brendan+poisonous+snake&source=bl&ots=Z9GWihWJKC&sig=ACfU3U1Or1cdu0Z0ffX30orWHz_GRQxtdQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiDx9ilzKnyAhWSZ80KHbqoB84Q6AF6BAgLEAM#v=onepage&q=saint%20brendan%20poisonous%20snake&f=false
  5. https://www.owleyes.org/text/adventure-speckled/read/the-advantage-of-the-speckled-band#root-218571-247 The idea of using a form of poison which could not possibly be discovered by any chemical test was just such a one as would occur to a clever and ruthless man who had had an Eastern training. The rapidity with which such a poison would take effect would also, from his point of view, be an advantage. It would be a sharp-eyed coroner, indeed, who could distinguish the two little dark punctures which would show where the poison fangs had done their work. Then I thought of the whistle. Of course he must recall the snake before the morning light revealed it to the victim.
  6. https://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/cy.aspx
  7. https://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/wd.aspx
  8. https://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/m.aspx
  9. https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Poisonous%20Snake#content
  10. https://www.logical-fallacy.com/articles/false-dilemma/
  11. https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Appeal-to-Definition
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/poisonous-snake
  13. https://archive.org/details/toxicologypharma0000brow
  14. https://www.nps.gov/blue/planyourvisit/poisonous-snakes.htm
  15. https://www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-venomous-and-poisonous
  16. https://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/poisonous-or-venomous “Poisonous—often confused with venomous—means a plant, animal, or substance capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body. Venomous means capable of injecting venom. A rattlesnake is not itself poisonous, because if you eat one it won’t poison you. A blowfish will kill you if you eat it, so it is poisonous, but not venomous.” This is number six in Laura Hale Brockway’s list of “8 words that may not mean what you think they mean” on PR Daily. And it’s true that poisonous may not mean what you think it means, but this also implies that it may mean exactly what you think it means, and as it turns out, it does. Though this was the first time I heard this complaint, it turns out to be mildly common. Paul Brians mentions it in his common errors — in fact, Brockway seems to have lifted half of her complaint from his. You can find a number of other online objectors, of course, but it’s uncommon in printed usage guides; of the seven within my reach at the moment, only Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right complains about poisonous. Conveniently, my edition of Write it Right is Jan Freeman’s excellent centennial edition, which means that each of Bierce’s complaints is accompanied by her research into it. About this issue, she writes: “As usual, Bierce would like to fence the overlapping words into separate pens. But while venomous does describe rattlesnakes and other animals that poison victims with a bite or sting, poisonous has always been a broader term. Samuel Johnson knew both words, but in his Dictionary (1755) he referred to ‘a poisonous serpent,’ ‘a poisonous insect,’ and ‘a poisonous reptile.'” It’s not just Johnson, either. The Oxford English Dictionary cites The Indian Queen, a play by Robert Howard and John Dryden (he of “no final prepositions” fame), with “poisonous Vipers” in 1665. Google Books can supply you a vast array of hits for “poisonous snakes” from the 1800s, if you need convincing of the lineage. Here’s my favorite, as it’s very clearly talking about snakes with venomous bites; it’s written by someone studying the venom of the snakes, so this isn’t some casual imprecise usage but the considered usage of a professional; and it’s from 1839, so there’s no arguing that this is some sloppy modern usage. In short, the two words do not have distinct meanings; rather, one has a subset of the other’s. This is common in English; I’ve previously written about jealousy/envy, verbal/oral, and compose/comprise, all of which display this to some degree. In the case of venomous and poisonous, this oughtn’t to be surprising, as their stems have this same relationship. A venom is one kind of poison, and similarly, being venomous is one way that an animal can be poisonous. The biggest clue that we aren’t all wrong for using poisonous in place of venomous is that it’s very rare to see the opposite extension. When people talk about “venomous plants”, for instance, they’re usually talking about plants that literally do sting, like stinging nettles or the gympie gympie. If people are just stupid or underinformed, they ought to make their errors symmetrically; here, the supposed error really only goes one way. (I’d expect asymmetric errors if one were much rarer than the other, but venomous isn’t particularly rare.) So poisonous and venomous overlap in general usage, and I’m having trouble seeing why anyone would expect or even want them to be separated. The only situation where it would potentially be worth having distinct definitions is if you’re regularly dealing with things that contain poisons delivered by different methods. But if that’s the goal, poisonous and venomous don’t supply enough categories. Having poisonous describing anything but venomous is just strange, given that it doesn’t make presumably critical distinctions between the poisoning methods of, say, tree frogs (touch) and pufferfish (ingestion). Summary: Poisonous and venomous aren’t totally distinct. It’s fine to call a snake poisonous, even if it’s its venom that’s dangerous. But it’s rare (and generally incorrect) to call something with a non-venom poison venomous. This is how it has been for hundreds of years in English. Objections to the subset relationship between poisonous and venomous are pretty rare, and outside of specialized contexts, pretty unfounded.
  17. https://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/poisonous-or-venomous
  18. Dorland's Medical Dictionary (https://web.archive.org/web/20090422165213/http://www.mercksource.com/pp/us/cns/cns_hl_dorlands_split.jsp?pg=/ppdocs/us/common/dorlands/dorland/eight/000115553.htm)
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8202764/#:~:text=Snake%20venom%20poisoning%20constitutes%20a%20medical%20emergency.%20It,annually%2C%20resulting%20in%20about%209%20to%2015%20fatalities.
  20. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poison
  21. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/venom venom noun Definition of venom (Entry 1 of 2) 1 : a toxic substance produced by some animals (such as snakes, scorpions, or bees) that is injected into prey or an enemy chiefly by biting or stinging and has an injurious or lethal effect broadly: a substance that is poisonous
  22. https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=venomous#:~:text=%22very%20venomous%20snake%20of%20Egypt%2C%22%201520s%2C%20earlier%20aspis,called%20probably%20in%20reference%20to%20its%20neck%20hood.
  23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26166305/
  24. https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/poison poison noun Definition of poison (Entry 1 of 3) 1 a: a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism b(1): something destructive or harmful (2): an object of aversion or abhorrence poison verb Definition of poison (Entry 2 of 3) 1 a: to injure or kill with poison b(1): something destructive or harmful (2): an object of aversion or abhorrence
  25. https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/venom
  26. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/poison
  27. https://medium.com/swlh/why-do-english-words-have-so-many-meanings-consider-macbeth-7ce5ab0301c6
  28. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/venom poison adjective Definition of poison (Entry 3 of 3) 1 : poisonous, venomous
  29. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26166305/#:~:text=The%20respective%20IE%20roots%20of%20the%20terms%20%22venom%22,a%20term%20later%20interpolated%20with%20the%20word%2C%20%22poison%22. poisonous adjective Definition of poisonous 1 : destructive, harmful 2 a : having the properties or effects of poison // poisonous gas b : producing a toxic substance that causes injury or death when absorbed or ingested // poisonous mushrooms also : venomous // a poisonous spider venomous adjective Definition of venomous 1 : producing venom in a specialized gland and capable of inflicting injury or death // venomous snakes 2 : full of venom: such as a : poisonous, envenomed toxic adjective Definition of toxic (Entry 1 of 3) 1 : containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation toxic- combining form variants: or toxico- Definition of toxic- (Entry 3 of 3)
    poison // toxicology
    toxin noun Definition of toxin
    a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation
    Etc...
  30. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envenom
  31. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envenomation
  32. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/envenomation
  33. https://www.lexico.com/definition/envenomate/
  34. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/653113
  35. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15647-snake-bites
  36. https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/snakebite
  37. https://www.nature.com/articles/117297a0
  38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532973/
  39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8083480/
  40. http://www.kgmu.org/digital_lectures/medical/forensic_medicine/snakes_ug_converted.pdf
  41. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3889466
  42. https://www.bmj.com/content/2/5243/49.2
  43. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(02)43544-1/fulltext
  44. https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/poison-vs-venom
  45. https://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/poisonous-or-venomous/
  46. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/venom Medical definitions for venom venom [ vĕn′əm ] n. A poisonous secretion of an animal, such as a snake, spider, or scorpion, usually transmitted by a bite or sting. A poison. The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Scientific definitions for venom venom [ vĕn′əm ] Any of various poisonous substances secreted by certain snakes, spiders, scorpions, and insects and transmitted to a victim by a bite or sting. Venoms are highly concentrated fluids that typically consist of dozens or hundreds of powerful enzymes, peptides, and smaller organic compounds. These compounds target and disable specific chemicals in the victim, damaging cellular and organ system function. Snake venoms, for example, contain substances that block platelet aggregation (causing bleeding) and that prevent the release of acetylcholine by nerve endings (causing muscle paralysis). Many substances contained in venoms are under investigation for use as pharmaceuticals. The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. venom [ ven-uhm ] See synonyms for: venom / venomed / venoming on Thesaurus.com noun the poisonous fluid that some animals, as certain snakes and spiders, secrete and introduce into the bodies of their victims by biting, stinging, etc. something resembling or suggesting poison in its effect; spite; malice: the venom of jealousy. Archaic. poison in general. verb (used with object) Archaic. to make venomous; envenom.
Advertisement