baleen

noun
ba·leen | \bə-ˈlēn, ˈbā-ˌlēn \

Definition of baleen 

: a horny keratinous substance found in two rows of transverse plates which hang down from the upper jaws of baleen whales

Examples of baleen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But some later lost their teeth, developing plates of bristle-like baleen in their mouths that’s used to filter small prey such as krill from the water. National Geographic, "Prehistoric Toothless Whale Among Oldest of Its Kind," 19 Apr. 2018 The situation is much the same in the United States, where 589 large whales (baleen and sperm) were confirmed stranded and dead between 2007 and 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Geographic, "This Man Has Helped Give 460 Dead Whales a Second Life—As Art," 9 Apr. 2018 But as Sarah McQuate reports for Nature, scientists have uncovered the oldest baleen-whale relative yet. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "This 36-Million-Year-Old Fossil Is a “Missing Link” in Whale Evolution," 15 May 2017 How did whales make the jump from using teeth to baleen? Jennifer S. Holland, Smithsonian, "A Whale’s Baleen Bristles Reveal the Story of Its Life," 1 Sep. 2017 These feed by filtering small organisms such as krill from the water, using hairy plates (made of tissue called baleen) as sieves. The Economist, "Fishing and sperm whalesAfter years of persecution, whales are getting their own back," 26 Oct. 2017 The source is nature itself — elk and deer sinew, baleen from a whale stranded in the river and delicate fibers from wild irises culled from forested high country. Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times, "Traditions Revived at a Tribal Culture Camp," 10 Sep. 2017 Humpbacks are the only species of baleen whales to carry their own offensive and defensive weaponry. Elin Kelsey, Smithsonian, "What Humpback Whales Can Teach Us About Compassion," 18 Aug. 2017 What sort of organism?: A cetacean related to today's baleen whales. Brian Switek, Scientific American Blog Network, "Paleo Profile: The Crown Tooth," 10 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'baleen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of baleen

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for baleen

Middle English baleine whale, baleen, from Latin balaena whale; akin to Greek phallaina whale

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The first known use of baleen was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for baleen

baleen

noun
ba·leen | \bə-ˈlēn \

Kids Definition of baleen

: a tough material that hangs down from the upper jaw of whales without teeth and is used by the whale to filter small ocean animals out of seawater

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