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Definition: To have a paralyzing, petrifying effect.

Pronunciation: gorr-gun-NYZ


Devised into (possibly Modern) English after the Grecian mythos telling of the three Gorgon sisters Medusa, Stheno, and Eurayle who, when locking eyes with those of another, turned the other to stone.

Why this word?

The myth of Medusa has always had a special place in my heart.

I always thought it was interesting how the male interpretation of the myth is “Oh, poor thing, cursed by the god she loved after being raped by a god that was not hers; cursed to live forever without human contact and ultimately have her head chopped off.”

Well, yes. That is the bare bones of what happened to Medusa.

But, in the female interpretation (which makes much more sense), Athena did not “curse” Medusa after Medusa had been raped in the temple– Athena gave her a blessing, the ultimate protection; something that not even the other gods could overpower. Athena turned Medusa into a beastly creature first to make her unattractive (and thus not a predictable target for common mortal predators), but then she changed the sight of Medusa’s eyes into the terrible weapon they became to protect her from divine predators. The fact that Poseidon attacked Medusa in Athena’s temple, on consecrated ground, showed that not only could mortals be awful and vile, but even the gods– to whom they prayed and entrusted their souls.

The symbol of Medusa’s head was even used as a marker to identify women shelters in Greece.

(Also, “gorgonized” is just a great way to describe that feeling one gets when being seriously looked at by another person, and one becomes too intimidated to move or speak.)

How do you use the word gorgonize in a sentence?

Gorgonize is a transitive verb.

“She canted her head to the right and stared at him pointedly from beneath her brows. The expression was a gorgonizing exasperation, and he felt an embarrassed flush begin to creep up his neck.”


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Written by Veronica Jacobs

Veronica Jacobs is a fiction writer, blogger, academic editor, and sci-fi enthusiast. Currently working freelance (with a background in English Literature), she spends most of her time writing.


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