Definition of gorgonian in US English:



  • A colonial coral of an order distinguished by having a horny treelike skeleton, including the sea fans and precious red coral.

    Order Gorgonacea, class Anthozoa

    • ‘I descended a little way off the reef and saw a dazzling concentration of corals, every millimetre covered in table, brain, encrusting and staghorn corals and draped in whip corals and gorgonians.’
    • ‘So I used the last dive of the day to shoot several reef scenes of crinoids sitting among soft corals and gorgonians, and a pair of yellow ghost pipefish.’
    • ‘Scrubby bushes of black coral and huge gorgonians reach out towards the sky.’
    • ‘There are many small creatures to photograph among the soft corals, gorgonians, hard corals and sponges.’
    • ‘Soft corals and gorgonians reach out from the overhanging sides, while shoals of fish swirl in the shade.’


  • Relating to gorgons or gorgonians.

    • ‘On the north west slope of Chevalier Rock is an enormous field of gorgonian seafans in varying shades of orange, all regimentally standing in rows perpendicular to the wall.’
    • ‘This dive is better in the deeper section, where large gorgonian seafans stretch out into the current, surrounded by large numbers of fish, corals, invertebrates, and some huge barrel sponges.’
    • ‘Several ‘fingers' of rock, each densely covered in gorgonian fans, projected out into the blue.’
    • ‘The coral and sponge growth was again lush, but with far healthier gorgonian colonies away from the sometimes violent swells of Diamond Rock.’
    • ‘Giant gorgonian fans, enormous corals and exaggerated sponges decorated the wall.’


Mid 19th century: from modern Latin Gorgonia, from Latin Gorgo (see Gorgon), with reference to its petrifaction, + -an.