me·​du·​sa mi-ˈdü-sə How to pronounce medusa (audio)
capitalized [Latin, from Greek Medousa] : a mortal Gorgon who is slain when decapitated by Perseus
plural medusae mi-ˈdü-ˌsē How to pronounce medusa (audio)
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
mi-ˈdü-sᵊn How to pronounce medusa (audio)
adjective or noun
mi-ˈdü-ˌsȯid How to pronounce medusa (audio)
adjective or noun

Examples of medusa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Most species of medusa (or adult) jellyfish live for a few months in the wild, according to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Olivia Munson, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2024 During this, a medusa jellyfish will revert back to its polyp stage, according to American Museum of Natural History. Olivia Munson, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2024 The cells specialized for medusae are reprogrammed into cells distinct for polyps – so the T. dohrnii recreates its body from a previous life stage. Katie Liu, Discover Magazine, 14 Dec. 2023 Now, after more than a century of searching, paleontologists are beginning to find the missing medusas. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Aug. 2023 Fossilized polyps have been found in about 560-million-year old rocks, but the origin of the more free-swimming medusa or jellyfish is not well understood. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 2 Aug. 2023 In 2007, University of Kansas researcher Bruce Lieberman and colleagues described medusa jellyfish from Utah from the 505-million-year-old Marjum Formation, and a different team of paleontologists described similar fossils in 2016 from 521-million-year-old rocks in China’s Yunnan Province. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Aug. 2023 Interestingly, genes related to DNA storage came into play to help the medusae make their proteins; but once the medusae went back to their polyp form, the same genes were silenced, with their proteins hitting rock bottom in the blob-like stage prior to turning into a polyp. Stav Dimitropoulos, Popular Mechanics, 6 Apr. 2023 The loose pieces of her custom Acne Studios top (in pink for Weekend One, black for Weekend Two) flowed with the desert wind, encircling her like a medusa's snakes, her audience suspended like stone. Tara Gonzalez, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'medusa.' 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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near medusa

Cite this Entry

“Medusa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


me·​du·​sa mi-ˈd(y)ü-sə How to pronounce medusa (audio)
plural medusae -ˌsē How to pronounce medusa (audio)
also medusas

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