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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 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 Though, amidst all the gravity of U.N. Climate Week, one delicate organism defied it—a siphonophore, which floated up the side of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in a projection several stories tall. Danielle Hall And Alia N. Payne, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Dec. 2021 Occasionally, a larger animal appeared—a pyrosome resembling a glowing cucumber, or a ribbonlike siphonophore with wispy stinging tentacles. Stephanie Stone, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Sep. 2021 The man o’ war, while closely resembling a jellyfish, is in fact a siphonophore, which means it is comprised of four separate organisms that each perform a specific task, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration., 21 July 2021 As Tessa Koumoundouros reports for Science Alert, researchers recently captured this footage of a giant Apolemia siphonophore off the coast of West Australia. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Apr. 2020 See More

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

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 27 Mar. 2023.

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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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