noun \ˈdäl-fən, ˈdl-\

: a small usually gray whale that has a pointed nose

Full Definition of DOLPHIN

a (1) :  any of various small marine toothed whales (family Delphinidae) with the snout more or less elongated into a beak and the neck vertebrae partially fused (2) :  any of several related chiefly freshwater toothed whales (as of the family Platanistidae)
b :  porpoise 1
capitalized :  delphinus
:  a spar or buoy for mooring boats; also :  a cluster of closely driven piles used as a fender for a dock or as a mooring or guide for boats

Illustration of DOLPHIN

Origin of DOLPHIN

Middle English delphyn, dolphyn, from Anglo-French delphin, alteration of Old French dalfin, from Medieval Latin dalfinus, alteration of Latin delphinus, from Greek delphin-, delphis; akin to Greek delphys womb, Sanskrit garbha
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Fishes Terms

char, chum, ichthyology, smelt, tetra, turbot


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Bottle-nosed dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)—Courtesy of the Miami Seaquarium

One of a large group of small, gregarious, streamlined whales or one of two species of oceanic sport and food fishes. Mammalian dolphins are small toothed whales, usually with a well-defined, beaklike snout. (They are sometimes called porpoises, but that name is properly reserved for a blunt-snouted whale family.) The common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the bottlenose dolphin, both of the family Delphinidae, are found widely in warm temperate seas, though some inhabit tropical rivers. Most of the 32 delphinid species are marine; gray, blackish or brown above and pale below; and about 3–13 ft (1–4 m) long. River dolphins (family Platanistidae; five species) live mainly in fresh water in South America and Asia. One of the two fish species, Coryphaena hippuras (family Coryphaenidae), also called mahimahi and dorado, is a popular fish of tropical and temperate waters worldwide. The pompano dolphin (C. equiselis) is similar. See also killer whale.


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