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 Because of overfishing, killer whales began attacking sea otters, a natural predator of the sea urchin (prickly creatures known as the porcupines of the sea). Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "With more species at risk of extinction, study warns of "biological annihilation"," 1 June 2020 The male whale doesn’t bear the usual black-and-white coloring of other killer whales. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Beloved Rare Pale Orca Spotted Near Washington amid Coronavirus Pandemic: 'He Stands Right Out'," 21 Apr. 2020 In 2010, trainer Dawn Brancheau was dragged to her death by a killer whale, Tilikum, at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., "This day in history," 25 Feb. 2020 Through the story of Tilikum, a distressed killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, the film detailed the miserable life orcas can face in captivity. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism," 12 June 2019 Washington state lawsuit targets trollers — Nearly 1,600 trollers who fish for king salmon in Southeast Alaska could be beached this summer over a lawsuit to protect killer whales — in Puget Sound, Washington. Anchorage Daily News, "Strict new pandemic rules are in place for Alaska fishermen and their vessels," 29 Apr. 2020 Thon said there were also reports this week of large schools of sharks coming unusually close to shore in several places in southern Thailand, and a sighting of a pod of false killer whales. NBC News, "Thailand's tourist drought leaves space for shy sea mammal," 23 Apr. 2020 Thon said there were also reports this week of large schools of sharks coming unusually close to shore in several places in southern Thailand, and a sighting of a pod of false killer whales. USA TODAY, "Coronavirus travel restrictions in Thailand allow shy wildlife to emerge," 23 Apr. 2020 The Pacific Northwest population of orcas — also called killer whales — was placed on the endangered species list in 2005. Washington Post, "Feds reject removal of 4 US Northwest dams in key report," 29 Feb. 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.

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First Known Use of killer whale

1884, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for killer whale

Time Traveler

The first known use of killer whale was in 1884

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Statistics for killer whale

Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Killer whale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with killer whale

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

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