Definition of bowhead in US English:


(also bowhead whale)


  • A black Arctic right whale that feeds by skimming the surface for plankton.

    Balaena mysticetus, family Balaenidae

    • ‘Some of the species found here include the walrus, polar bear, beluga, narwhal, bearded seals, harp seal, harbour seal, ringed seal, bowhead whale, ivory gull, and some migratory birds.’
    • ‘A preliminary glossary of Inuktitut words relating to bowheads, whaling, and related topics has been prepared, but it is not included in the book, as it awaits verification by Inuit elders.’
    • ‘The proposal appears to apply in principle to virtually any species except bowheads and blue whales, though in practice I think the government is more interested in assessing stocks of fins, humpbacks, pilot whales and several dolphins.’
    • ‘As his graphite stylus slid back and forth across the paper, images emerged: a bowhead whale, several reindeer, a bear and bear tracks.’
    • ‘Probably the first thing concerned citizens think of when the word ‘endangered’ pops up is an animal: the California condor, the giant panda, the bowhead whale, the leatherback sea turtle.’
    • ‘These 39 species include the eastern and western Arctic bowhead whale and beluga whale populations in Ungava Bay, southeast Baffin Island-Cumberland Sound, and eastern Hudson Bay.’
    • ‘One of the world's lesser known whales, the bowhead lives exclusively north of the Arctic Circle, spending four months or more of the year in complete darkness.’
    • ‘There is no indication that temperate and subtropical large whale species live as long as bowheads.’
    • ‘Shrills, squeaks and groans made by the excited bowheads reverberate through my body.’
    • ‘The three bears had been tearing into remnants of a bowhead whale, recently caught by the villagers on an authorized hunt.’
    • ‘The Point Hope dancers performed short solo and duet pieces, dressed in white (for snow) and black (for the bowhead whale, which forms the base of their economy).’
    • ‘Weighing upward of 60 tons and reaching lengths up to 50 feet, the bowhead whale is one of the Arctic's great mysteries.’
    • ‘Formerly hunters of Pacific sperm whale, these whaling fleets came to Arctic regions following the bowhead whale migration to the Beaufort Sea for summer feeding.’
    • ‘Like all whales, bowheads are sensitive creatures and getting into the water with one must be done with caution-from the whale's standpoint, not just the diver's.’
    • ‘The tusked narwhal, white beluga whales and elusive bowhead whale all live off the northern part of this island.’
    • ‘We don't have fruits and vegetables, but the bowhead has minerals and vitamins that provide the nutritional requirements needed to live in the Arctic environment.’
    • ‘Hence, if there were intervals when the Davis Strait stock of bowheads ranged into the Arctic Ocean, they ought to have seasonally migrated through Norwegian Bay and Eureka Sound.’
    • ‘In Greenland, Japan and Norway whale meat is sold in supermarkets, in Russia it has been sold to feed fur-bearers, and in Alaska baleen handicrafts from bowheads are sold to tourists.’
    • ‘One unusual discovery in Norway's Svalbard Islands was a bowhead whale hanging fifty feet above the water, its belly still embedded in the melting glacier that had encased it during the Little Ice Age.’
    • ‘The study places the Eastern Arctic bowhead whale, Western arctic bowhead whale and the Eastern Hudson Bay beluga whale on the list of species facing imminent extinction.’


Late 19th century: from bow + head.