sperm whale

noun
\ ˈspərm- How to pronounce sperm whale (audio) \

Definition of sperm whale

: a very large toothed whale (Physeter macrocephalus synonym P. catodon) that has large conical teeth in the lower jaw, a single blowhole, and a massive squarish head with a closed cavity containing a fluid mixture of spermaceti and oil, and that may reach a length in the male of nearly 60 feet (18.3 meters)

Illustration of sperm whale

Illustration of sperm whale

Examples of sperm whale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web By comparison, Gero’s Dominica Sperm Whale Project has collected less than 100,000 sperm whale codas. Christoph Droesser, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Oct. 2021 For example, the streamlined teardrop hulls of post-World War II subs are based on the shape of the sperm whale. Michael Peck, Forbes, 20 Oct. 2021 Several sperm whale researchers approached for this article declare little knowledge of ambergris. Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Sep. 2021 Giant of the Gulf reveals itself Coastal Alabama residents got an unprecedented, but ultimately sad, glimpse of one of the mysterious giants of the deep Gulf of Mexico in November, when a male sperm whale wandered into Mobile Bay. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, 31 Dec. 2020 Among the items Cooper agreed to sell, worth somewhere between $40,000 and $95,000, were two, two-foot-long raw elephant tusks, teeth from a sperm whale and dozens of carvings, including figurines, vases and rings. Washington Post, 29 June 2021 However, in the past, cetyl alcohol wasn't vegan at all — it was extracted from sperm whale oil. Devon Abelman, Allure, 17 July 2021 So far in 2021, 10 gray whales, one pygmy sperm whale and one fin whale were reported dead on San Francisco Bay Area shores, according to the California Academy of Sciences. Vanessa Arredondo, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 May 2021 Biologically speaking, the sperm whale belongs to the genus Physeter, to the family Physeteridae, and to that magnificent group of aquatic mammals properly called Cetacea. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of sperm whale

circa 1700, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sperm whale

short for spermaceti whale

Learn More About sperm whale

Time Traveler for sperm whale

Time Traveler

The first known use of sperm whale was circa 1700

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near sperm whale

-spermum

sperm whale

sperm-whale porpoise

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sperm whale

Cite this Entry

“Sperm whale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sperm%20whale. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for sperm whale

sperm whale

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sperm whale

: a type of whale that has a very large head and is hunted for its fat and oil

sperm whale

noun

Kids Definition of sperm whale

: a huge whale with a large head having a closed cavity that contains a mixture of wax and oil

More from Merriam-Webster on sperm whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sperm whale

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!