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[muh-doo-suh, -zuh, -dyoo-] /məˈdu sə, -zə, -ˈdyu-/
noun, plural medusas, medusae
[muh-doo-see, -zee, -dyoo-] /məˈdu si, -zi, -ˈdyu-/ (Show IPA).
a saucer-shaped or dome-shaped, free-swimming jellyfish or hydra.
Origin of medusa
1750-60; special use of Medusa, alluding to the Gorgon's snaky locks
Related forms
[muh-doo-soid, -dyoo-] /məˈdu sɔɪd, -ˈdyu-/ (Show IPA),


[muh-doo-suh, -zuh, -dyoo-] /məˈdu sə, -zə, -ˈdyu-/
noun, plural Medusas. Classical Mythology.
the only mortal of the three Gorgons. She was killed by Perseus, and her head was mounted upon the aegis of Zeus and Athena.
< Latin < Greek Médousa, special use of médousa, feminine of médōn ruling Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for medusa


noun (pl) -sas, -sae (-ziː)
another name for jellyfish (sense 1), jellyfish (sense 2)
Also called medusoid, medusan. one of the two forms in which a coelenterate exists. It has a jelly-like umbrella-shaped body, is free swimming, and produces gametes Compare polyp
Derived Forms
medusan, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from the likeness of its tentacles to the snaky locks of Medusa


(Greek myth) a mortal woman who was transformed by Athena into one of the three Gorgons. Her appearance was so hideous that those who looked directly at her were turned to stone. Perseus eventually slew her See also Pegasus1
Derived Forms
Medusan, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for medusa

"jellyfish," 1758, as genus name, from the name of one of the three Gorgons with snakes for hair, whose glance turned to stone him who looked upon it (attested in English from late 14c.). Her name is from Greek Medousa, literally "guardian," fem. present participle of the verb medein "to protect, rule over" (see Medea). The zoological name was chosen by Linnæus, suggested by the creature's long tentacles. Related: Medusoid.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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medusa in Science
Plural medusas or medusae (mĭ-d'sē)
A cnidarian in its free-swimming stage. Medusas are bell-shaped, with tentacles hanging down around a central mouth. Jellyfish are medusas, while corals and sea anemones lack a medusa stage and exist only as polyps. Compare polyp.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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medusa in Culture
Medusa [(mi-dooh-suh, mi-dooh-zuh)]

The best known of the monster Gorgons of classical mythology; people who looked at her would turn to stone. A hero, Perseus, was able to kill Medusa, aiming his sword by looking at her reflection in a highly polished shield.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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