Gorgons were the 'grim ones' (gorgos, 'grim', 'fierce'), three female creatures of frightening aspect. They were the daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, that is, the 'Old Man of the Sea' and his monstrous sister. Their names were Stheno, Euryale and (the most famous, and the only mortal) Medusa. The name has its origin where the very word gorgos does, and it seems that it may simply be meaningless - or rather, be intended to suggest something fearful.

It is remarkable, in fact, that many English words starting 'gor-', 'gro-' or 'gr-' generally have unpleasant meanings. Among the best examples are 'gore', 'grime', 'grimace', 'grunt', 'groan', 'grief, 'grisly', 'grumble', 'grave', 'gorge', 'gross', 'gruesome', 'grovel', 'growl', 'gruelling', 'gruff', 'grumpy', and of course 'grim' itself!

Even the Russian name of Ivan the Terrible (Ivan Grozny) has been shown to be related to Greek gorgos. Of course, there are exceptions, but even 'gorgeous', it appears, has links - rather tortuously, via gorgias, an old French word for a kind of neck-scarf- with 'gorge', 'regurgitate' and other grim 'throaty' words.