1

porpoise

play
noun por·poise \ ˈpȯr-pəs \

Definition of porpoise

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 :dolphin 1a(1) not used technically
Note: 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.

Recent Examples of porpoise from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'porpoise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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

Other Mammals Terms


2

porpoise

verb

Definition of porpoise

intransitive verb
1 :to leap or plunge like a porpoise
  • penguins … porpoise out of the water
  • —David Lewis
2 :to rise and fall repeatedly

First Known Use of porpoise

1909


PORPOISE Defined for English Language Learners

porpoise

play
noun

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


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