Word of the Day : April 4, 2014


noun NAHR-wahl


: an arctic cetacean (Monodon monoceros) about 20 feet (6 meters) long with the male having a long twisted ivory tusk

Did You Know?

The narwhal is a [toothed whale](/dictionary/toothed whale) found throughout arctic waters. Its Latin binomial, Monodon monoceros, is derived from the Greek words for "single-toothed" and "single-horned." Its English name (also sometimes spelled "narwhale") comes from the Norwegian and Danish "narvhal" and the Swedish "narval," words which are probably a modification of the Icelandic "nárhvalur," which comes from the Old Norse "nāhvalr." In Old Norse "hvalr" means "whale" and is akin to the Old English "hwæl," the ancestor of the Modern English "whale." The first element of "nāhvalr" is believed to be "nār," the Old Norse word for "corpse," from the resemblance of the animal's color to that of a human corpse.


In medieval times, the tusk of the narwhal was sometimes passed off and sold as the horn of the fabled unicorn.

"Polar bears and narwhals-some of the Arctic's most unusual and beloved creatures-are the focus of a family activity day at the Whatcom Museum, part of its continuing events in support of the 'Vanishing Ice' exhibit." - From an article by Robert Mittendorf in The Bellingham Herald (Washington), January 9, 2014

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "decoct," our Word of the Day from March 3? The answer is …


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