me·​du·​sa | \ mi-ˈdü-sə How to pronounce medusa (audio) , -ˈdyü-, -zə \

Definition of medusa

1 capitalized [Latin, from Greek Medousa] : a mortal Gorgon who is slain when decapitated by Perseus
2 plural medusae\ mi-​ˈdü-​ˌsē How to pronounce medusa (audio) , -​ˈdyü-​ , -​ˌzē , -​ˌsī , -​ˌzī \ also medusas [New Latin, from Latin] : the typically free-swimming, bell-shaped, usually sexually-reproducing, solitary or colonial form of a cnidarian (such as an obelia, box jellyfish, or sea nettle) in which nematocyst-studded tentacles arise and hang down from the margin of the nearly transparent, gelatinous bell — see jellyfish

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Other Words from medusa

medusan \ mi-​ˈdü-​sᵊn How to pronounce medusa (audio) , -​ˈdyü-​ , -​zᵊn \ adjective or noun
medusoid \ mi-​ˈdü-​ˌsȯid How to pronounce medusa (audio) , -​ˈdyü-​ , -​ˌzȯid \ adjective or noun

Examples of medusa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The soft, circular body, known as the medusa, rests on the seafloor while just a few short, tentacles float above them. Hannah Knighton, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Feb. 2020 Brenneman portrayed half of Billy McBride’s (Billy Bob Thornton) mighty medusa monster Diana Blackwood, a power woman with all the right connections who enjoys microdosing much more than reality. Rosy Cordero,, 8 Oct. 2019 Gold explained that the medusa stage represents a quantum leap in complexity. Quanta Magazine, 8 Jan. 2019 The medusa danced before her, flaunting its translucent skirts. L. S. Asekoff, Harper's magazine, 19 Aug. 2019 Gold thought that genes unique to jellyfish would be active during the transformation from polyp to medusa. Quanta Magazine, 8 Jan. 2019 To go from being a stationary polyp to a floating medusa is almost akin to humans evolving the ability to swim through the air and capture birds with springy, netlike appendages. Quanta Magazine, 8 Jan. 2019 In the 1990s Italian researchers discovered that Turritopsis dorhnii, a jellyfish the size of a pen tip, reverts back and forth from a medusa to a polyp, earning the nickname the immortal jellyfish. National Geographic, 2 Mar. 2016 If so, scientists are hopeful that once conditions in the lake improve, a new generation will again produce the free swimming adult medusa that so delight tourists. National Geographic, 4 May 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'medusa.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of medusa

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of medusa was in the 14th century

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medusa's head

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Cite this Entry

“Medusa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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