dolphin

noun
dol·​phin | \ˈdäl-fən, 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

Orcas have the most varied diet of any whale, dolphin or porpoise, and can take on prey of all types, from stingrays to salmon, depending on the type of orca. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "What you need to know about the critically endangered southern resident killer whales," 25 Sep. 2018 Beluga whales off Canada, Risso’s dolphins in the Mediterranean, and Hector’s dolphins off New Zealand. Kim Steutermann Rogers, Smithsonian, "How the Tiniest of Parasites is Taking Down the Mightiest of Monk Seals," 9 July 2018 Botter grew up in Curaçao, and Herrebrugh has lived between the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic—their Hyères show included everything from neon floral suits and fishnet shirts to balloon headpieces in the shape of dolphins. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Nina Ricci Just Hired Two Award-Winning Menswear Designers as Its New Creative Directors," 29 Aug. 2018 The last of the nine dolphins was released around noon. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Rescuers work to save dolphins stranded on Cape Cod; 10 released into ocean," 10 July 2018 Descending through schools of fish, a pair of dolphins splashing overhead, the massive net came into view. Elena Bectoros, The Christian Science Monitor, "Divers help to remove abandoned, destructive 'ghost' nets," 8 June 2018 Descending through schools of fish, a pair of dolphins splashing overhead, the massive net came into view. Elena Becatoros, Fox News, "Cleaning the seabed: Divers halt the carnage of 'ghost' nets," 8 June 2018 Descending through schools of fish, a pair of dolphins splashing overhead, the massive net came into view. Washington Post, "Cleaning the seabed: Divers halt the carnage of ‘ghost’ nets," 8 June 2018 In later dives, researchers captured images of dolphins engraved on the canons, positively IDing the wreck as the fabled ship. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "“Holy Grail” of Spanish Treasure Galleons Found Off Colombia," 25 May 2018

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near dolphin

dolos

dolose

dolour

dolphin

dolphinfish

dolphin flower

dolphin oil

Statistics for dolphin

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dolphin

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

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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, 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

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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

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