Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The collection of organisms living on or in sea or lake bottoms.
  • n. The bottom of a sea or lake.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The flora and fauna at the bottom of the ocean or other body of water.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The bottom of the sea, esp. of the deep oceans

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The plants and animals that live in the sea-bottom, and those that are attached to its surface, and those that creep or run over it: a collective noun introduced by Haeckel. The benthos is contrasted with the plankton, or floating and swimming fauna and flora of the sea. It includes all the marine macrophytic algæ, also some phanerogams, the sea-grasses (see sea-grass, 1), as well as an abundance of microphytic algæ (diatoms, etc.). It is divided into the sedentary and the vagile or vagrant benthos, the former including organisms attached to the bottom, the latter those moving over it. See plankton, nekton.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. organisms (plants and animals) that live at or near the bottom of a sea
  • n. a region including the bottom of the sea and the littoral zones

Etymologies

Greek.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek βένθος (benthos, "the depths"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • The definition supplied with the Word of the Day message has a curiously biblical (that is, King James) sound to it:
    "The plants and animals that live in the sea-bottom, and those that are
    attached to its surface, and those that creep or run over it."
    I think it comes from the use of polysyndeton. The somewhat odd application of the prepositions "in" and "over" also contribute an Elizabethan feel.

    February 19, 2014

  • If costs of the oil spill are rightly assessed
    Then lovers of seafood are mightily blessed.
    They've bathed the whole benthos
    In a savory dense sauce
    So fish in the nets come up ready-dressed.

    February 19, 2014