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Definition of CETACEAN
: any of an order (Cetacea) of aquatic mostly marine mammals that includes the whales, dolphins, porpoises, and related forms and that have a torpedo-shaped nearly hairless body, paddle-shaped forelimbs but no hind limbs, one or two nares opening externally at the top of the head, and a horizontally flattened tail used for locomotion
ultimately from Latin cetus whale, from Greek kētos
First Known Use: 1835
Any of the exclusively aquatic placental mammals constituting the order Cetacea. They are found in oceans worldwide and in some freshwater environments. Modern cetaceans are grouped in two suborders: about 70 species of toothed whales (Odontoceti) and 13 species of toothless baleen whales (Mysticeti). They have a tapered body, no external hind limbs, and a tail ending in a horizontal blade of two lobes, or flukes. Cetaceans must come to the water's surface to breathe through blowholes located on top of their head. See alsowhale.