1

whale

noun, often attributive \ ˈhwāl , ˈwāl \
|Updated on: 18 Jun 2018

Definition of whale

plural whales
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

whalelike

play \ˈhwāl-ˌlīk, ˈwāl-\ adjective

Examples of whale in a Sentence

  1. a whale of a pickup truck

Recent Examples of whale from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of whale

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

Other Mammals Terms


2

whale

verb

Definition of whale

whaled; whaling
: to engage in whale fishing

First Known Use of whale

1700

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

Other Hunting and Fishing Terms


3

whale

verb

Definition of whale

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

Origin and Etymology of whale

origin unknown



WHALE Defined for English Language Learners

whale

Definition of whale for English Language Learners

  • : an often very large animal that lives in the ocean and that is a mammal rather than a fish

  • : something that is very big, important, good, etc.


WHALE Defined for Kids

1

whale

noun \ ˈhwāl , ˈwāl \

Definition of whale for Students

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

2

whale

verb

Definition of whale for Students

whaled; whaling
: to hunt whales


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

widely and unfavorably known

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a-closeup-of-a-sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!