I must not omit to mention a very singular name by which this animal is known, in some parts of the United-States. By the negroes … the reptile is often called Hell-Bender, by reason of its slow twisted motions, when moving in the waters, which the slaves compare to the tortuous pangs of the damned in hell. Is it beneath the dignity of natural history to notice such vulgar names, when they serve to throw any light upon the habits or economy of an animal? And does not the moralist perceive, that there is something melancholy and distressing in the condition and reflections of those who impose such names?
—Benjamin Smith Barton (1812)