Definition of narwhal
: an arctic cetacean (Monodon monoceros) that reaches a length of about 16 feet (5 meters) and possesses in the male one or rarely two long, spirally twisted, pointed tusks ◆Although the narwhal is classified as a toothed whale (suborder Odontoceti), it does not possess any teeth in its mouth.
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Did You Know?
The narwhal is a [toothed whale](/dictionary/toothed whale) found throughout arctic waters. Its Latin binomial, Monodon monoceros, is derived from the Greek words for "single-toothed" and "single-horned." Its English name (also sometimes spelled narwhale) comes from the Norwegian and Danish narvhal and the Swedish narval, words which are probably a modification of the Icelandic nárhvalur, which comes from the Old Norse nāhvalr. In Old Norse hvalr means "whale" and is akin to the Old English hwæl, the ancestor of the Modern English whale. The first element of nāhvalr is believed to be nār, the Old Norse word for "corpse," from the resemblance of the animal's color to that of a human corpse.
Origin and Etymology of narwhal
Norwegian & Danish narhval & Swedish narval, probably modification of Icelandic nárhvalur, from Old Norse nāhvalr, from nār corpse + hvalr whale; from its color
First Known Use: 1646
NARWHAL Defined for Kids
Definition of narwhal for Students
: an arctic marine animal that is related to dolphins and whales and in the male has a long twisted ivory tusk
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