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 The mural of life-size sperm whales measures some 107 feet long and 35 feet high. Pamela Wright, BostonGlobe.com, "Don’t overlook New London," 27 Aug. 2019 Studies have detected plastic fibers everywhere — in the stomachs of sperm whales, in tap water and in table salt. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "A Giant Factory Rises to Make a Product Filling Up the World: Plastic," 12 Aug. 2019 Whales were quickly ruled out by the marine experts because only one, a sperm whale, has a large enough esophagus to swallow a man whole. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: A past president of Israel chose La Jolla as his hideaway," 20 Aug. 2019 The loudest clicks from sperm whales have been measured at 230—louder than a rocket launch but emanating underwater. Jennifer Emerling, National Geographic, "Seeking silence on a California road trip," 6 Aug. 2019 This is still a rich area, but there are no more big squid, so no more sperm whales. Smithsonian, "John Steinbeck’s Epic Ocean Voyage Rewrote the Rules of Ecology," 22 Aug. 2019 The study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin found that sperm whales were also the species worst affected by plastic ingestion. Washington Post, "Study: Lethal plastic trash now common in Greece’s whales," 21 June 2019 Scientists believe that mutual predatory systems exist: sperm whales and giant squid may be an example. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Starving predators survive together, but maybe only in math-land," 27 July 2019 While this shark was caught in 2010 during a mission to study sperm whale feeding, Grace first came across it in 2013 while examining specimens that were collected during the NOAA survey. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "New species of glow-in-the-dark shark found in Gulf of Mexico," 22 July 2019

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sperm whale

Statistics for sperm whale

Last Updated

26 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for sperm whale

The first known use of sperm whale was circa 1700

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sperm whale

sperm whale

noun
How to pronounce sperm whale (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sperm whale

Spanish Central: Translation of sperm whale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sperm whale

Comments on sperm whale

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!