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

And, most crucially, bats - unlike dolphins and pigeons - cannot be trained to follow orders. Lucy Cooke, ajc, "US military is interested in bats as possible defenders against bioweapons," 3 July 2018 The debris entangles and kills all sorts of sea animals, including turtles, dolphins, and whales, and breaks down into microscopic particles that are consumed by fish and filter feeders like mussels and oysters. NBC News, "The Pacific Ocean has a plastic problem. Here's the bold plan to fix it," 21 Apr. 2018 The dolphin shows and the water-skiing reeled her in immediately on family trips in the '70s. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Sea-Arama in Galveston was an island attraction for decades," 11 July 2018 Two dolphins appear to have been released together. Fox News, "Video: Rescuers save 9 stranded dolphins off Cape Cod coast," 10 July 2018 On a day off, the team visited the city's dolphin park, one of the most famous in the region. Tales Azzoni And Tim Booth, chicagotribune.com, "Sunny Sochi turns into World Cup playground," 25 June 2018 Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik gave his side a scare by slipping and falling in a puddle whilst visiting an aquarium for dolphins. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Poland vs Columbia - Recent Form, Key Battle, Team News, Prediction & More," 23 June 2018 The park already has several other similar experiences like the dolphin encounter and killer whales up close tour. Lori Weisberg, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SeaWorld debuts up-close encounters with otters, seals, flamingos — for a charge," 20 June 2018 If single-use plastic straws are taking hundreds of years to break down in the environment, doing nothing beyond choking dolphins in the process, why not ban them? Caille Millner, SFChronicle.com, "A splash of cold water on straw-ban fervor: Many people with disabilities need them," 13 July 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.

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

2 Oct 2018

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, 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

evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!