One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A North Atlantic right whale (genus Balaena); specifically the black right whale, B. glacialis (formerly known as B. nordcaper).
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Patrick Murdoch (d. 1774), Church of England clergyman and writer. Either from German Nordkaper, or from Dutch noordkaper, or from Norwegian nordkaper, all from the name of the North Cape (German Nordkap, Dutch Noordkaap, Norwegian Nordkapp), the name of a promontory on the north coast of Magerøya, an island off the north coast of Norway + -er. Compare earlier north-caper.
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