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[puh-laj-ik] /pəˈlædʒ ɪk/
of or relating to the open seas or oceans.
living or growing at or near the surface of the ocean, far from land, as certain organisms.
Compare neritic, oceanic.
Origin of pelagic
1650-60; < Latin pelagicus < Greek pelagikós, equivalent to pélag(os) the sea + -ikos -ic
Related forms
nonpelagic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for pelagic


of or relating to the open sea: pelagic whaling
(of marine life) living or occurring in the upper waters of open sea
(of geological formations) derived from material that has fallen to the bottom from the upper waters of the sea
Word Origin
C17: from Latin pelagicus, from pelagus, from Greek pelagos sea
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 pelagic

"pertaining to the sea," 1650s, from Latin pelagicus, from Greek pelagikos, from pelagos "sea, high sea, open sea, main," from PIE *pelag- "to spread out" (cf. Greek plagos "side," Latin plaga "hunting net, curtain, region"), possibly from root *plak- (1) "to spread out, be flat" (see placenta).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pelagic in Science
Relating to or living in or on oceanic waters. The pelagic zone of the ocean begins at the low tide mark and includes the entire oceanic water column. The pelagic ecosystem is largely dependent on the phytoplankton inhabiting the upper, sunlit regions, where most ocean organisms live. Biodiversity decreases sharply in the unlit zones where water pressure is high, temperatures are cold, and food sources scarce. Pelagic waters are divided, in descending order, into the epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abyssopelagic, and hadopelagic zones.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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