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 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 The major exception is southern-resident killer whales, which remain critically endangered. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Whale strandings off Washington-Oregon coast highest in nearly 2 decades," 2 July 2018 These included those of killer whales, pilot whales, Risso’s dolphins and humpback whales. The Economist, "When faced with a killer whale should you fight or flee?," 14 June 2018 Older fans of the park will remember Mamuk, a killer whale that resided at the park for six years in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Sea-Arama in Galveston was an island attraction for decades," 11 July 2018 In 2010 in Washington State, for instance, people observed a killer whale pushing around and nuzzling her dead calf for six hours, unwilling to abandon the body. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Study Suggests Dolphins and Some Whales Grieve Their Dead," 20 June 2018 Why pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins behave differently in response to the threat from killer whales is unclear. The Economist, "When faced with a killer whale should you fight or flee?," 14 June 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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Last Updated

24 Aug 2018

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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

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)

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Spanish Central: Translation of killer whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about killer whale

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