si·​pho·​no·​phore sī-ˈfä-nə-ˌfȯr How to pronounce siphonophore (audio)
: any of an order (Siphonophora) of colonial, free-swimming or floating, marine hydrozoans (such as the Portuguese man-of-war) that are mostly delicate, transparent, and colored and have zooids possessing specialized functions (such as feeding or locomotion)
… startling brilliance is often seen among siphonophores, gelatinous colonial animals whose different members work in unison.William J. Broad
Most siphonophores are small, transparent creatures of the open sea. They float at the surface among the plankton or swim actively, usually at shallow depths. As carnivores, they capture small planktonic animals in their net of tentacles.Stephen Jay Gould

Examples of siphonophore in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike most animals that grow as a single entity, this siphonophore is a composite of thousands of cloned bodies, each specialized for different tasks. Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine, 1 Mar. 2024 The woolly siphonophores arrange themselves in much the same structure as the giant siphonophores, with both species sharing a similar float and a similar stem. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 28 Aug. 2023 That said, the majority of siphonophores stick to the open ocean, with longer siphonophores drifting in deeper waters than shorter siphonophores, since powerful currents close to the surface can shred siphonophore colonies apart. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 28 Aug. 2023 Dandelion siphonophore This potentially new species of dandelion siphonophore was imaged on the deep slopes of Rose Atoll. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 26 May 2023 While many of the species discovered are likely to be on the smaller end of the scale, Virmani noted that the world’s longest sea creature was only discovered in 2020 off the coast of Western Australia — a 150-foot stringlike animal known as a siphonophore. Katie Hunt, CNN, 27 Apr. 2023 This large siphonophore, a gelatinous creature similar to a jellyfish, wowed ocean scientists exploring the deep sea off the coast of Western Australia. Danielle Hall, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Dec. 2020 Take the case of the deep-sea siphonophore, which makes red light to trap its prey. Discover Magazine, 29 June 2010 Despite its powers of illumination, the prayid siphonophore itself has no eyes. Valerie Ross, Discover Magazine, 25 Mar. 2019

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

Word History


ultimately from Greek siphōn + pherein to carry — more at bear

First Known Use

circa 1842, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of siphonophore was circa 1842

Dictionary Entries Near siphonophore

Cite this Entry

“Siphonophore.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


si·​pho·​no·​phore sī-ˈfän-ə-ˌfō(ə)r How to pronounce siphonophore (audio) ˈsī-fə-nə- How to pronounce siphonophore (audio)
: any of an order (Siphonophora) of compound free-swimming or floating pelagic hydrozoans see portuguese man-of-war
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