whale

noun, often attributive
\ ˈ(h)wāl How to pronounce whale (audio) \
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

2 : to strike or hit vigorously
3 : to defeat soundly

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Other Words from whale

Noun

whalelike \ ˈ(h)wāl-​ˌlīk How to pronounce whalelike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of whale in a Sentence

Noun a whale of a pickup truck
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It is not advised to get into the water alone, at night, or if there has been a whale stranding in the area. Jack Guy, CNN, "Drone video shows surfers' very close encounter with great white shark," 24 June 2020 Happening now: a whale breached the surface and landed on a boat only a few dozen yards off D Street. CBS News, "Breaching whale capsizes boat in New Jersey, tossing 2 people into ocean," 9 June 2020 In California’s Santa Ynez valley, that might mean foraging for mushrooms for dinner, or a private whale watching sail. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Road Trip Has Always Been DIY—These Experts Are Here to Change That," 9 June 2020 The juvenile whale was first spotted along Turnagain Arm on May 25. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Stranded gray whale finally swims out of river into Turnagain Arm during high tide," 4 June 2020 Two people survived after they were tossed into the ocean when a breaching whale capsized their boat along the New Jersey shore. CBS News, "Breaching whale capsizes boat in New Jersey, tossing 2 people into ocean," 9 June 2020 Team Streak was a whale of a ride, and one of the big reasons was a 39-game hitting streak Molitor compiled in the second half of the season, a streak that no player has matched since. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "These are 50 of the best single seasons in Wisconsin sports history: Nos. 50-26," 8 June 2020 The Oceanic Society, emphasizing social distancing, will make its first whale-watching trip of the season Saturday, leaving from the harbor at Marina Green. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "New wave of park openings topped by Point Reyes trails," 5 June 2020 The whale had an area 500 to 600 yards long in which to swim. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Stranded gray whale finally swims out of river into Turnagain Arm during high tide," 4 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for whale

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for whale

Last Updated

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whale. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for whale

whale

noun
How to pronounce whale (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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