dolphin

noun

dol·​phin ˈdäl-fən How to pronounce dolphin (audio)
ˈdȯl-
1
a
: 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
2
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 Another option: Install a robust system of defensive structures known as dolphins — circular concrete pillars located near a bridge's central supports that are designed to absorb the impact of a careening ship. Scott Neuman, NPR, 3 May 2024 Part of the county’s justification for terminating the Seaquarium’s lease rests on maintenance issues, including code violations for the tank where manatees live and the stadium where dolphins perform. Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald, 19 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for dolphin 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dolphin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near dolphin

Cite this Entry

“Dolphin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dolphin. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

dolphin

noun
dol·​phin ˈdäl-fən How to pronounce dolphin (audio)
ˈdȯl-
1
a
: any of various small whales with teeth and a long nose
2
: either of two active saltwater food fishes noted for their brilliant coloring

More from Merriam-Webster on dolphin

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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