dolphin

noun
dol·​phin | \ ˈdäl-fən How to pronounce dolphin (audio) , ˈdȯl-\

Definition of dolphin

1a : any of various small marine toothed whales (family Delphinidae) with the snout more or less elongated into a beak and the neck vertebrae partially fused

Note: While not closely related, dolphins and porpoises share a physical resemblance that often leads to misidentification. Dolphins typically have cone-shaped teeth, curved dorsal fins, and elongated beaks with large mouths, while porpoises have flat, spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and shortened beaks with smaller mouths.

b : any of several related chiefly freshwater toothed whales (as of the families Platanistidae and Iniidae) : river dolphin
3 capitalized : delphinus
4 : a spar or buoy for mooring boats also : a cluster of closely driven piles used as a fender for a dock or as a mooring or guide for boats

Illustration of dolphin

Illustration of dolphin

dolphin 1a

Examples of dolphin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The last major deadly red tide in the region occurred in 2005-06, and caused the deaths of around 190 dolphins. Talal Ansari, WSJ, "Florida’s Red Tide Killed At Least 174 Dolphins," 27 June 2019 Connect with the folks at Southernmost Sailing School, who can show you your bowline from your clove hitch and take you out to see the dolphins. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Best Road Trips in North America," 10 June 2019 My parents, loving and generous, had gifted me a birthday trip — a once in a lifetime opportunity to go with my mom to Florida to see dolphins. Caroline Catlin, Longreads, "My Abuser’s Gender Made Me Doubt My Experience," 27 Feb. 2018 In May, a group of humpbacks was spotted off the coast of Ireland interacting and playing with a pod of dolphins. Fox News, "Rare white whale spotted off Australian coast," 21 June 2019 Federal scientists are trying to determine why an extraordinary number of dolphins have turned up dead along the Gulf Coast. Dennis Romero, NBC News, "Dolphins along the Gulf Coast are dying at triple the normal rate, scientists say," 16 June 2019 Fishermen off Cape Cod who witnessed the rare occurrence of an orca whale swimming with a pod of dolphins, could hardly believe their eyes. Wesli Jones, CNN, "Must-watch videos of the week," 14 June 2019 Apart from the turtles, wild schools of dolphins can frequently be spotted off the shoreline. Abby Sewell, National Geographic, "Discover the best beaches in the Middle East," 29 May 2019 Even better, the Russian military learned the technology from dolphins, which are naturally psychic. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Journal Claims Russian Troops Have Psychic Powers," 4 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dolphin.' 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 dolphin

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for dolphin

Middle English delphyn, dolphyn, from Anglo-French delphin, alteration of Old French dalfin, from Medieval Latin dalfinus, alteration of Latin delphinus, from Greek delphin-, delphis; akin to Greek delphys womb, Sanskrit garbha

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dolphin

Dictionary Entries near dolphin

dolos

dolose

dolour

dolphin

dolphinfish

dolphin flower

dolphin oil

Statistics for dolphin

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dolphin

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dolphin

dolphin

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dolphin

: a small usually gray whale that has a pointed nose

dolphin

noun
dol·​phin | \ ˈdäl-fən How to pronounce dolphin (audio) , ˈdȯl-\

Kids Definition of dolphin

1 : a small whale with teeth and a long nose
2 : either of two large fish usually of warm seas that are often used for food

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dolphin

Spanish Central: Translation of dolphin

Nglish: Translation of dolphin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dolphin for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dolphin

Comments on dolphin

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

WORD OF THE DAY

something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

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!