whale

noun, often attributive
\ ˈhwāl How to pronounce whale (audio) , ˈwāl\
plural whales

Definition of whale

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 or plural whale : any of various very large, aquatic, marine mammals (order Cetacea) that have a torpedo-shaped body with a thick layer of blubber, paddle-shaped forelimbs but no hind limbs, a horizontally flattened tail, and nostrils that open externally at the top of the head also : cetacean — see baleen whale, toothed whale
2 : one that is impressive especially in size a whale of a difference a whale of a good time

whale

verb (1)
whaled; whaling

Definition of whale (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to engage in whale fishing

whale

verb (2)
whaled; whaling

Definition of whale (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : lash, thrash
2 : to strike or hit vigorously
3 : to defeat soundly

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Other Words from whale

Noun

whalelike \ ˈhwāl-​ˌlīk How to pronounce whalelike (audio) , ˈwāl-​ \ adjective

Examples of whale in a Sentence

Noun

a whale of a pickup truck

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At first, my children were entirely focused on whether the whales would survive. Alexandra Samuel, WSJ, "Nine Movies That Can Teach Your Children About Business," 25 Nov. 2018 Migura says the calf likely died from an orca attack, and necropsy results for the second whale are pending. Anchorage Daily News, "3 gray whales found dead on shores of Kodiak Island," 4 July 2018 While receiving treatment from a team of veterinarians, the whale vomited five plastic bags, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said in a Facebook post. Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY, "Pilot whale dies after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags: 'Still going to dump trash?'," 4 June 2018 Scientists said the whale most likely died after ingesting over 60 pounds of trash, the Times reported. CBS News, "New York City Council to consider ban on plastic straws," 23 May 2018 After hitting the pier with its tail, the whale swims away. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "He was on a fishing pier when he saw a 'wave.' A whale was coming his way, video shows," 21 Apr. 2018 Despite the lack of calves this winter, some experts say the whales could still rebound. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Rare whales that cruise Carolinas coast barely survive. Their chances just got worse. | Charlotte Observer," 27 Mar. 2018 Payne said humans’ primate lineage goes back to about the time the ancestral whales entered the water. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Had our human ancestors taken to the sea, we would have been big and blubbery," 26 Mar. 2018 Some zoologists believe whales use it as an ocean-wide telephone system. The Economist, "Mutually assured detection," 8 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word '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 whale

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1700, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

circa 1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for whale

Noun

Middle English, from Old English hwæl; akin to Old High German hwal whale and perhaps to Latin squalus sea fish

Verb (2)

origin unknown

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Statistics for whale

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whale

The first known use of whale was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for whale

whale

noun

English Language Learners Definition of whale

: an often very large animal that lives in the ocean and that is a mammal rather than a fish
informal : something that is very big, important, good, etc.

whale

noun
\ ˈhwāl How to pronounce whale (audio) , ˈwāl\

Kids Definition of whale

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very large sea mammal that has flippers and a flattened tail and breathes through an opening on the top of the head

whale

verb
whaled; whaling

Kids Definition of whale (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hunt whales

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More from Merriam-Webster on whale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whale

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whale

Spanish Central: Translation of whale

Nglish: Translation of whale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whale for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whale

Comments on whale

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