[muh-doo-suh, -zuh, -dyoo-]

noun, plural me·du·sas, me·du·sae [muh-doo-see, -zee, -dyoo-] /məˈdu si, -zi, -ˈdyu-/. Zoology.

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 formsme·du·soid [muh-doo-soid, -dyoo-] /məˈdu sɔɪd, -ˈdyu-/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for medusae

Historical Examples of medusae

British Dictionary definitions for medusae



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 herSee also Pegasus 1
Derived FormsMedusan, adjective


noun plural -sas or -sae (-ziː)

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 gametesCompare polyp
Derived Formsmedusan, adjective

Word Origin for medusa

C18: from the likeness of its tentacles to the snaky locks of Medusa
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

Word Origin and History for medusae



"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

medusae in Science



Plural medusas medusae (mĭ-dōō)

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

medusae in Culture


[(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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.