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

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Other Words from cetacean

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

Examples of cetacean in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Michael Packard was diving off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, Friday, when the capital cetacean caught him unawares. Evan Simko-bednarski, CNN, 11 June 2021 Sperm whales are the only living cetacean that has a single blowhole asymmetrically situated on the left side of the crown of the head. al, 23 Nov. 2020 On the show The Boys, a speedboat smashes into a cetacean and the humans emerge unscathed. Rhett Allain, Wired, 14 Sep. 2020 As for the whale itself, experts are still unable to determine why the cetacean and its travel companions swam upriver in the first place. Gabrielle Chung, PEOPLE.com, 14 Sep. 2020 In some places, official guardians watch over a resident cetacean. Cathleen O'grady, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 July 2020 Initially, the cetacean will observe people from a distance, but if those people repeatedly try to make friends, the wild animal’s caution may fall away. Cathleen O'grady, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 July 2020 That could be because commercial whaling bans have boosted the number of cetaceans in the sea, allowing whales to find mates without having to shout. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 21 Apr. 2020 This differs from cetaceans, which miniaturized their bony labyrinths soon after entering the water. Fox News, 21 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of cetacean

1840, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cetacean

ultimately from Latin cetus whale, from Greek kētos

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Time Traveler for cetacean

Time Traveler

The first known use of cetacean was in 1840

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cetane number


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Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cetacean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cetacean. Accessed 26 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for cetacean



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


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