sperm whale

3 ENTRIES FOUND:

sperm whale

noun \ˈspərm-\

: a type of whale that has a very large head and is hunted for its fat and oil

Full Definition of SPERM WHALE

:  a large toothed whale (Physeter macrocephalus syn. P. catodon) with a massive squarish head having a large closed cavity containing a fluid mixture of spermaceti and oil

Illustration of SPERM WHALE

Origin of SPERM WHALE

short for spermaceti whale
First Known Use: circa 1700

sperm whale

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Thickset, blunt-snouted toothed whale (Physeter catodon, family Physeteridae) with small, paddlelike flippers and rounded humps on the back. Sperm whales have an enormous head, squarish in profile, and a narrow, underslung lower jaw with large conical teeth that fit into sockets in the toothless upper jaw when the mouth is closed. They are dark blue-gray or brownish. (Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was presumably an albino.) The male grows to 60 ft (18 m). Herds of 15–20 live in temperate and tropical waters worldwide. They commonly dive to 1,200 ft (350 m), feeding primarily on cephalopods. The whales have been hunted for their spermaceti (a waxy substance in the snout, used in ointments and cosmetics) and for ambergris. The pygmy sperm whale (genus Kogia) is a black dolphinlike whale, about 13 ft (4 m) long, of the Northern Hemisphere that lacks commercial value.

Variants of SPERM WHALE

sperm whale or cachalot

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