killer whale


Definition of killer whale

: a relatively small toothed whale (Orcinus orca of the family Delphinidae) that is black above with white underparts and white oval-shaped patches behind the eyes, attains a length of 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters), typically hunts in groups, and preys chiefly on sea mammals (such as seals, sea lions, and other whales), large fish, and squid

called also orca

Examples of killer whale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Leading killer-whale scientists and researchers are calling for removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River and a boost of water over the dams to save southern resident killer whales from extinction. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Orca survival may be impossible without Lower Snake River dam removal, scientists say," 15 Oct. 2018 We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Devastating photos show grieving orca pushing dead calf to water surface for two days," 27 July 2018 The southern resident orcas are a unique population of killer whales. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "What you need to know about the critically endangered southern resident killer whales," 25 Sep. 2018 Other animals belonging to that category are killer whales and pilot whales. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Scientists Discover Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Near Hawaii," 29 July 2018 Balcomb’s team first started watching the area’s Southern Resident killer whales in 1976. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Grieving Orca Mom Has Been Carrying Her Dead Calf for Days," 29 July 2018 Photo: Thinkstock Wholphin This marine mammal is a hybrid of a dolphin and a false killer whale. Olivia Putnal, Woman's Day, "10 Unusual Animal Hybrids," 21 Sep. 2010 The theme park company continues to suffer the ill effects of anti-captivity public sentiment directed largely at the SeaWorld parks’ population of killer whales. Lori Weisberg,, "SeaWorld faces possible securities sanctions," 12 Apr. 2018 The major exception is southern-resident killer whales, which remain critically endangered. Anchorage Daily News, "Whale strandings off Washington-Oregon coast highest in nearly 2 decades," 3 July 2018

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

1884, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for killer whale

Last Updated

28 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for killer whale

The first known use of killer whale was in 1884

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More Definitions for killer whale

killer whale


English Language Learners Definition of killer whale

: a black-and-white whale that kills and eats other animals (such as seals)

killer whale


Kids Definition of killer whale

: a toothed whale that is mostly black above and white below and feeds especially on fish, squid, birds, and sea mammals (as seals)

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More from Merriam-Webster on killer whale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with killer whale

Spanish Central: Translation of killer whale Encyclopedia article about killer whale

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