Middle English whelke, from Old English hwylca, from hwelian to suppurate
First Known Use: before 12th century
Northern whelk (Buccinum undatum)—Ingmar Holmasen
Any marine snail of the family Buccinidae, or a snail having a similar shell; found worldwide. Some whelks are called conchs. The sturdy shell of most species in the family is slender and has a wide opening in the first whorl. The animal feeds on other mollusks through its long proboscis; some species also kill fishes and crustaceans caught in commercial traps. Most are cold-water species; tropical species are smaller and more colourful. The common northern whelk (Buccinum undatum) has a stout pale shell about 3 in. (8 cm) long and is abundant in North Atlantic waters.