Word of the Day – Pelagic

Word of the Day: May 13, 2020


adjective – puh-LAJ-ik


  • of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea : oceanic

Did you know?

Pelagic comes to us from Greek, via Latin. The Greek word pelagikos became pelagicus in Latin and then pelagic in English. (Pelagikos is derived from pelagos, the Greek word for the sea—it is also a source of archipelago—plus the adjectival suffix –ikos.) Pelagic first showed up in dictionaries in 1656; a definition from that time says that Pelagick (as it was then spelled) meant “of the Sea, or that liveth in the Sea.” Centuries later, writers are still using pelagic with the same meaning, albeit less frequently than its more familiar synonym oceanic.


“Smith counted 10 rock pigeons and another red-breasted merganser, along with a thin-billed pelagic cormorant and three Brandt’s cormorant.” — Paul Rowley, The Vashon-Maury Island (Washington) Beachcomber, 14 Jan. 2020

“Bait fish schools usually long gone at this juncture are still fairly thick in Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and out in the Gulf as well. Most of the pelagic species that migrate by our coast in the fall are still being caught with some regularity offshore.” — Zach Zacharias, The Herald Tribune (Sarasota, Florida), 15 Jan. 2020

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day