cetacean

noun
ce·​ta·​cean | \ si-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce cetacean (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cetacean

cetacean adjective
cetaceous \ si-​ˈtā-​shəs How to pronounce cetaceous (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cetacean in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Such assessments are of interest to us, and researchers around the globe, with current investigations focused on wildlife such as arboreal mammals and cetaceans. Smithsonian, "When It Comes to Counting Wildlife, Drones Are More Accurate Than People," 27 Feb. 2018 These recent, extreme adaptations raise a question of how cetaceans may continue to change. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "Today’s Whales Are Huge, But Why Aren’t They Huger?," 27 June 2018 The study showed cetaceans with the largest brain size relative to their body living in more complex groups or pods were more likely to show grief. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Study Suggests Dolphins and Some Whales Grieve Their Dead," 20 June 2018 Similar results have been found in other families of mammals, like ungulates (deer, camels, and the like) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The evolutionary mystery of gigantic human brains," 23 Aug. 2018 Indeed, there is evidence that many cetaceans—that is, whales, dolphins and porpoises—have strong and complicated family and social ties. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, "Like Us, Whales May Be Smart Because They’re Social," 16 Aug. 2018 Among marine mammals, pinnipeds, such as seals, do—but cetaceans, such as whales and dolphins, do not. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian, "Do Marine Mammals Yawn and More Questions From Our Readers," 28 June 2018 The North Atlantic right whale, for example, reaches over 50 feet in length and is one of the most endangered cetaceans on the planet. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "Today’s Whales Are Huge, But Why Aren’t They Huger?," 27 June 2018 One of the article’s authors, vertebrate biologist Nel Beaumont, wrote in an email that there were not enough older books about cetaceans in their sample to determine whether accuracy had improved over time. Claire Eamer, Smithsonian, "How Children’s Books Reveal Our Evolving Relationship With Whales," 27 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of cetacean

1835, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cetacean

ultimately from Latin cetus whale, from Greek kētos

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cetacean

Dictionary Entries near cetacean

cet-

CETA

Cetacea

cetacean

cetane

cetane number

cete

Statistics for cetacean

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cetacean

The first known use of cetacean was in 1835

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cetacean

cetacean

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cetacean

technical : a mammal (such as a whale, dolphin, or porpoise) that lives in the ocean

More from Merriam-Webster on cetacean

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cetacean

Comments on cetacean

What made you want to look up cetacean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!