She spread herself wide open to let the insects in
She leaves a trail of honey to show me where she's been
She has the blood of reptile just underneath her skin
Seeds from a thousand others drip down from within
Oh my beautiful liar
Oh my precious whore
My disease my infection
I am so impure

Devils speak of the ways in which she'll manifest
Angels bleed from the tainted touch of my caress
Need to contaminate to alleviate this loneliness
I now know the depths I reach are limitless
Oh my beautiful liar
Oh my precious whore
My disease my infection
I am so impure

Oh my beautiful liar
Oh my precious whore
My disease my infection
I am so impure

Oh my beautiful liar
Oh my precious whore
My disease my infection
I am so impure


Lyrics submitted by implode

Reptile Lyrics as written by Trent Reznor

Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Reptile song meanings
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79 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentFor a while, I really couldn't put my finger on this song. I thought it belonged earlier in the album, closer to other songs like "Closer" and "Big Man With A Gun." However, I'm starting to realize that it makes a whole lot of sense. In my eyes, this is the conclusion to a sexual, conceptual trilogy in "The Downward Spiral."

    After every major event in the album, the protagonist turns to sexual control in an attempt to heal himself. In "Closer," our protagonist turns away from religion ("Heresy") and first uses sex and control as an escape from the horrors of his mind and his internal battle after whatever happened to him in "Piggy," quite possibly a breakup. The feeling of power provided a temporary escape, but ultimately it only advanced him further down the spiral. After the assault of Mr. Self-Destruct/the Ruiner/the antagonistic machine dark side in "The Becoming," he amplified his efforts to escape in "Big Man With A Gun," taking even more control over his partner, taking away the sensuality and emotion, and possibly resorting to violence. Scared and frightened after his realizations of responsibility and thoughts of suicide in "A Warm Place" and "Eraser," our protagonist turns to sex for a third and final time, but this time something is different. He isn't able to lose himself in the pleasure and the power, because this time he is aware of the decline in his life and he's aware that his partner is, frankly, a whore. He no longer feels truly in control now that he realizes he's paying this woman to do what he says, thus the lines "Oh my beautiful liar, oh my precious whore." The theme of STDs is highly present in the song, but I'm not so sure the protagonist actually contracts a disease as much as he realizes his own impurity in trying to get away from himself via sex and control. This is an album of concepts, after all; STDs are to "Reptile" as religion is to "Heresy," sex is to "Closer," sociopaths are to "Ruiner," suicide is to "Hurt," etc. The genius of it all is that Trent Reznor manages to string all of these concepts into a traceable plot. That all being said, upon realization of himself and his partners' true nature in bed, our protagonist is ready to take the final steps down the spiral.
    HammerFloydon December 09, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General Commentit's about a lover of his who cheated on him and brought back an incurable std to the relationship (thereby confirming the infidelity). it should be pretty obvious. the song is called "reptile". what do you call a person who studies reptiles?
    samiam00on April 16, 2004   Link
  • +6
    General CommentDude. You guys are reading too much into it. Trent Reznor just wanted to break up the heavy mood of the album with a silly, lighthearted song about a woman who was born with lizard DNA.

    I mean......didn't he?
    jessejaceon August 02, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"she has the blood of a reptile"-The line showcases that the girl is cold and uninterested in a loving, meaningful relationship. I've heard that reptiles are considered to be cold blooded.

    "i now know that the depths I reach are limitless"-Pherhaps the narattor feels that he's reached the bottom once he has allowed himself to be a willing participant in such a horrendous, emotionless, purely phisical, convinient relationship. In Closer, he attempts to get to know this girl, loves her with all of his being and wants her to be the one, but by reptile, he realizes she feels little for him, and is uninterestd in the kind of relationships he desires. He blames himself for being shallow, dishonest and unable to move on.
    illusorycorelationon December 29, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI disagree with LittleUrantiaGirl. "Piggy" and "Closer" was referring to a lover that he lost. The song is about a prostitute, as mentionned above. In the story of The Downward Spiral, the music at the end paints a picture of the main character realising that he has to commit suicide (as seen in the next song, The Downward Spiral). The music does a good job of such a scary realisation.
    restin256on December 29, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this song is about becoming disenchanted with a girl. he once saw her as beautiful, but now seems to blame her for tainting him.
    beth46307on May 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthmm.....from personal experience with someone like this....my understanding is someone very weak but very strong, someone who has been beaten down so many times that they lose their humanity and become reptilian, but one (trent in this case) can still love her in an odd way, a consuming way. It ties in with the idea of the sacred whore, the magdalene idea, except it is more of a corrupted version of such, as are most NIN songs....songs of beauty lost.
    anomalous3on September 18, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is based on on a girl the character falls in love with. It's a continuation of "Piggy" and "Closer". He loves the girl, although she's dingy and hurts him. . . he knows he shouldn't, but he keeps coming back for more.

    "oh my beautiful liar, oh my precious whore"
    - He's deeply in love with her, and amazed by her sluttiness. He's a self-abusing person, and he adores her for the way she hurts him.
    LittleUrantiaGirlon July 03, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song was inspired by the movie 'eraserhead.'
    xMILKxon June 27, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEraserhead is a kickass movie.
    TaintedGloveon November 02, 2004   Link

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