killer whale

noun

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

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, sandiegouniontribune.com, "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 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 After more than 3,000 miles, Lummi Nation tribal members delivered their songs and prayers for the release of Lolita the southern-resident killer whale at the Miami Seaquarium where she has been kept for 47 years. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Lummi shut out at Seaquarium; Lolita remains a captive whale," 29 May 2018 The killer whale, it is said, is not often seen so far south. Johnny Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, "Reporter Randy Shilts announces he has AIDS, 1993," 7 Feb. 2018 The book is packed with facts — from the weight of an octopus (150 pounds) to the length of a killer whale’s teeth (3 to 4 inches), from how deep a harbor seal can dive (1,630 feet) to the life span of a geoduck (168 years). Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "New children’s book dives deep into the Salish Sea," 23 Apr. 2018 The Southern Resident killer whale population is just one population of the black-and-white whales, which worldwide are estimated to number in the tens of thousands. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Pacific Northwest Orca Population Hits 30-Year-Low," 10 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of killer whale

1884, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about killer whale

Share killer whale

Statistics for killer whale

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for killer whale

The first known use of killer whale was in 1884

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for killer whale

killer whale

noun

English Language Learners Definition of killer whale

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

killer whale

noun

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)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on killer whale

See words that rhyme with killer whale

Spanish Central: Translation of killer whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about killer whale

Comments on killer whale

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

WORD OF THE DAY

something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!