< /kəˈdu siˌaɪ, -ʃiˌaɪ, -ˈdyu-/.

  1. Classical Mythology. the staff carried by Mercury as messenger of the gods.
  2. a representation of this staff used as an emblem of the medical profession and as the insignia of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

noun plural -cei (-sɪˌaɪ)

  1. classical myth a staff entwined with two serpents and bearing a pair of wings at the top, carried by Hermes (Mercury) as messenger of the gods
  2. an insignia resembling this staff used as an emblem of the medical professionCompare staff of Aesculapius

1590s, from Latin caduceus, alteration of Doric Greek karykeion “herald’s staff,” from karyx (genitive karykos) “a herald,” from PIE *karu-, from root *kar- “to praise loudly, extol” (cf. Sanskrit carkarti “mentions with praise,” Old English hreð “fame, glory”). Token of a peaceful embassy; originally an olive branch. Especially the wand carried by Mercury, messenger of the gods, usually represented with two serpents twined round it.

n. pl. ca•du•ce•i (-sē-ī′)

  1. A winged staff with two serpents twined around it, carried by Hermes.
  2. An insignia modeled on Hermes’ staff and used as the symbol of the medical profession.
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