Portuguese man-of-war

noun

plural Portuguese man-of-wars also Portuguese men-of-war
: any of a genus (Physalia of the family Physaliidae) of large, tropical and subtropical, pelagic, siphonophore hydrozoans having a crested bladderlike float which bears the colony comprised of three types of zooids on the lower surface with one of the three having nematocyst-equipped tentacles

Illustration of Portuguese man-of-war

Illustration of <span class=syl>portuguese man<span class=sylbreak>-</span>of<span class=sylbreak>-</span>war</span>
  • Portuguese man-of-war

Examples of Portuguese man-of-war in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Blue dragons, known scientifically as Glaucus atlanticus, sail on the surface of the ocean feeding on toxins from the Portuguese man-of-war and other jellyfish-like organisms. Priscilla Thompson, NBC News, 9 Mar. 2024 Nyad was blown off course and contented with shoulder pain, asthma and stings from jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2023 Saving Desert Tortoises from Extinction To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video In July, village lifeguards used five-gallon buckets to collect Portuguese man-of-wars that had washed up on the sand. Emma Allen, The New Yorker, 14 Aug. 2023 Three of us went to East to take down my camp and had to wade through water packed with floating Portuguese man-of-wars to load the boat. Smithsonian Magazine, 10 July 2023 The animal eats creatures like the venomous Portuguese man-of-war and stores its prey’s stinging cells, called cnidocytes, in sacs, Hicks said. Megan Marples, CNN, 8 Apr. 2022 By-the-wind sailors are related to jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war, which can produce a painful sting, but their tentacles are mostly harmless, Pernet said. Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2023 The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, a species closely related to jellyfish, according to the National Ocean Service. Megan Marples, CNN, 8 Apr. 2022 Jellyfish tend to wash ashore in seasonal waves; winter is Portuguese man-of-war season. Lois K. Solomon, sun-sentinel.com, 28 Jan. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Portuguese man-of-war.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1707, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Portuguese man-of-war was in 1707

Dictionary Entries Near Portuguese man-of-war

Cite this Entry

“Portuguese man-of-war.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Portuguese%20man-of-war. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

Portuguese man-of-war

noun
plural Portuguese man-of-wars also Portuguese men-of-war
: any of several large colonial invertebrate animals that are hydrozoans and float on the surface of the sea by means of a large gas-filled structure like a bag and have long tentacles capable of delivering a painful sting

Medical Definition

Portuguese man-of-war

noun
Por·​tu·​guese man-of-war ˌpȯr-chə-ˌgēz-ˌman-əv-ˈwȯr How to pronounce Portuguese man-of-war (audio)
plural Portuguese man-of-wars -ˈwȯrz How to pronounce Portuguese man-of-war (audio) also Portuguese men-of-war -ˌmen-əv-ˈwȯr How to pronounce Portuguese man-of-war (audio)
: any siphonophore of the genus Physalia including large tropical and subtropical oceanic forms having a crested bladderlike float which bears a colony comprised of three types of zooids on the lower surface with one of the three having stinging tentacles

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