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 Other sub-Arctic species are also moving or staying north, including the bowhead’s chief predator, the orca, or killer whale. James Hookway, WSJ, 16 May 2021 Basically, the scientists patched together the complete ancient genome using modern and extinct bears as templates—think about using a model of a bottlenose dolphin as a guide to assemble the body parts of a killer whale. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 20 Apr. 2021 Those calves can also attract another great marine mammal: the orca, also known as the killer whale, which feeds on the young gray whales. oregonlive, 4 Mar. 2021 But in recent years the great whites have been driven out by two representatives of an equally fearsome species—the killer whale. The Economist, 24 Feb. 2021 The whales, once hunted to near-extinction, are now dying from a combination of killer whale attacks, ship strikes and starvation. Anna Buchmann, SFChronicle.com, 11 Jan. 2021 The park featured performing aquatic mammals and penguins, and a 5-year-old killer whale named Newtka that was dubbed the park’s star performer. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, 29 Dec. 2020 Springer, an orphan from the Northern Resident killer whale community who was lost in the Puget Sound, 300 miles from her home off northern Vancouver Island. Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2020 In late May and early June, the beginning of the killer whale migration season, fish populations remain low because of factors like bycatch fishing and habitat disturbance. Christina Couch, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 June 2020

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

Time Traveler for killer whale

Time Traveler

The first known use of killer whale was in 1884

See more words from the same year

Statistics for killer whale

Last Updated

24 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Killer whale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/killer%20whale. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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)

More from Merriam-Webster on killer whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about killer whale

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!