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.
Various theories exist regarding the origin of the name itself. One suggests that it was derived from the Sinhala henakandaya. 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. 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