[ 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


non·pe·lag·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pelagic

British Dictionary definitions for pelagic

/ (pɛˈlædʒɪk) /


of or relating to the open seapelagic 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 for pelagic

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

Science definitions for pelagic

[ pə-lăjĭk ]

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