si·​pho·​no·​phore | \ sī-ˈfä-nə-ˌfȯr How to pronounce siphonophore (audio) , ˈsī-fə-nə- \

Definition of siphonophore

: 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 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 This swirling siphonophore, spotted 200 feet down in the waters off Western Australia, was 150 feet long, the New York Times reports. Michael Nichols, National Geographic, 16 Apr. 2020 Besides the gigantic siphonophore, the explorers also found large groups of glass sponges and other species. Fox News, 14 Apr. 2020 In addition to the huge siphonophore, scientists aboard the Falkor identified up to 30 new species. Devi Lockwood, New York Times, 14 Apr. 2020 Each siphonophore is a colony of individual zooids, clusters of cells that clone themselves thousands of times to produce an extended, stringlike body. Devi Lockwood, New York Times, 14 Apr. 2020 The Schmidt Ocean Institute shared a stunning video of the Apolemia, a type of siphonophore, that was captured during an expedition of the deep sea Ningaloo Canyons. Alex Connor, USA TODAY, 9 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of siphonophore

circa 1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for siphonophore

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

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The first known use of siphonophore was circa 1842

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Cite this Entry

“Siphonophore.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for siphonophore


si·​pho·​no·​phore | \ sī-ˈfän-ə-ˌfō(ə)r How to pronounce siphonophore (audio) , ˈsī-fə-nə- How to pronounce siphonophore (audio) , -ˌfȯ(ə)r \

Medical Definition of siphonophore

: any of an order (Siphonophora) of compound free-swimming or floating pelagic hydrozoans — see portuguese man-of-war


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