1

porpoise

play
noun por·poise \ˈpȯr-pəs\

Definition of porpoise

  1. 1 :  any of a family (Phocoenidae) of small gregarious toothed whales; especially :  a blunt-snouted usually dark gray whale (Phocoena phocoena) of the North Atlantic and North Pacific that typically ranges from 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in length

  2. 2 :  dolphin 1a(1) —not used technically While not closely related, porpoises and dolphins share a physical resemblance that often leads to misidentification. Porpoises typically have flat, spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and shortened beaks with relatively small mouths while dolphins have cone-shaped teeth, curved dorsal fins, and elongated beaks with larger mouths.

Origin and Etymology of porpoise

Middle English porpoys, from Anglo-French porpeis, from Medieval Latin porcopiscis, from Latin porcus pig + piscis fish — more at farrow, fish


First Known Use: 14th century

Other Mammals Terms


2

porpoise

verb por·poise

Definition of porpoise

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to leap or plunge like a porpoise penguins … porpoise out of the water — David Lewis

  3. 2 :  to rise and fall repeatedly

1909

First Known Use of porpoise

1909


PORPOISE Defined for English Language Learners

1

porpoise

play
noun por·poise \ˈpȯr-pəs\

Definition of porpoise for English Language Learners

  • : a small usually gray and white whale that has a rounded nose


PORPOISE Defined for Kids

porpoise

play
noun por·poise \ˈpȯr-pəs\

Definition of porpoise for Students

  1. 1 :  a small whale with teeth that resembles a dolphin but has a blunt rounded snout

  2. 2 :  dolphin 1



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

not embarrassed or apologetic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • winning-words-from-the-national-spelling-bee-logo
  • Which is the correct spelling of the winning word from 1988?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!