sperm whale

\ˈspərm- \

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

In Murcia, revelations about the death of the sperm whale have spurred officials to action. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Dead Sperm Whale Had 64 Pounds of Trash in Its Digestive System," 12 Apr. 2018 The accompanying visual acuity guards against attack from the squids’ most infamous predator, the sperm whale, which the squid can spot from almost 400 feet away—a distance long enough to qualify as a par-three golf hole. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Operation Calamari: How the Smithsonian Got Its Giant Squids," 21 June 2018 In April, an emaciated sperm whale was found dead on a Spanish beach with more than 60 pounds of trash in its digestive system. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "How This Whale Got Nearly 20 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach," 4 June 2018 In April, a 33-foot sperm whale weighing nearly 15,000 pounds was found dead on a Spanish beach. Alex Horton, BostonGlobe.com, "No one could save a pilot whale that swallowed 17 pounds of plastic bags off Thailand," 3 June 2018 In the past, people managed to get their light by burning beef fat, storm petrels (a fatty seabird), and sperm whale oil. Nathanael Johnson, WIRED, "Where Can Climate Activists Find Common Ground?," 9 July 2018 In April, a 33-foot sperm whale weighing more than 14,000 pounds was found dead on a Spanish beach. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "No one could save a pilot whale that swallowed 17 pounds of plastic bags off Thailand," 3 June 2018 Ambergris, a substance sperm whales produce as part of their digestion, is a rare and expensive ingredient of perfumes. National Geographic, "This Man Has Helped Give 460 Dead Whales a Second Life—As Art," 9 Apr. 2018 The rare pygmy sperm whale that washed up on an Ipswich beach and later died will be taken to the New England Aquarium for an necropsy, an official said. BostonGlobe.com, "Necropsy planned for rare pygmy sperm whale found on Ipswich beach," 13 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of sperm whale

circa 1700, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sperm whale

short for spermaceti whale

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Statistics for sperm whale

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for sperm whale

The first known use of sperm whale was circa 1700

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More Definitions for sperm whale

sperm whale


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


Kids Definition of sperm whale

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sperm whale

See words that rhyme with sperm whale

Spanish Central: Translation of sperm whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sperm whale

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to reject or criticize sharply

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