Definition of porpoise in English:



  • A small toothed whale with a low triangular dorsal fin and a blunt rounded snout.

    • ‘There are over 80 species of cetaceans, marine mammals such as porpoises, dolphins and whales, but the Norwegians have traditionally hunted minke.’
    • ‘Dolphins and porpoises are examples of odontocetes, as are belugas, narwhals, killer whales, sperm whales, and beaked whales.’
    • ‘While the cod, pollack and haddock may have all but disappeared, you stand a good chance of spotting porpoises, minke whales and even the odd beluga.’
    • ‘The first day we saw nothing but a harbour porpoise feeding in the current washing around Black Head, close to the end of the Lizard Peninsula.’
    • ‘Complete isolation and frequent sightings of porpoises and minke whales set the scene.’
    • ‘Whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions receive protection in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.’
    • ‘More and more, researchers are finding out just how important sound is to cetaceans like dolphins, porpoises and whales.’
    • ‘The Cetacea are, of course, best known from their modern representatives, the porpoises, dolphins and whales.’
    • ‘The biodiversity report lists 25 species at risk, including otters, brown hares, red squirrels, pipistrelle bats, porpoises, six varieties of dolphin and 13 types of whale.’
    • ‘Cetaceans also are hunted and eaten, the most common being porpoises, killer whales, and pilot whales.’
    • ‘Pingers (acoustic deterrents that warn or scare dolphins, porpoises, and whales away from fishing nets) are mandatory in other areas.’
    • ‘Also, looking back over a decade of stranding records from Britain, the researchers found seven dolphins and porpoises and one beaked whale with puzzling gas bubbles.’
    • ‘Irish waters are at least seasonally home to an impressive 24 species, ranging from the tiny harbour porpoise to the giant blue whales.’
    • ‘More than 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises - or cetaceans - are estimated to die every year from entanglement in fishing gear, more than from any other cause.’
    • ‘The shores are playgrounds for otters and seals while porpoises and killer whales sweep past on their way between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea.’
    • ‘The crows nest has become an ideal lookout post for sighting dolphins, whales, porpoises, seabirds and turtles.’
    • ‘Dolphins, porpoises and even minke whales have all been sighted, while the grey seal colony is always entertaining.’
    • ‘You may spot seals and otters and, if you're lucky, porpoises and killer whales on their way from the Atlantic and to the Irish Sea.’
    • ‘Fishery managers believe that a few low-decibel pings in the ocean, usually inaudible 300 meters away, have to be better than killing porpoises in Maine or sperm whales in California.’
    • ‘The environmental group claims the deaths off the British coastline are among a worldwide toll of 300,000 cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) worldwide every year.’


  • Move through the water like a porpoise, alternately rising above it and submerging.

    ‘the boat began to porpoise badly’
    • ‘Then potential menace turned to pure joy as two more orcas joined the first and together they porpoised toward the setting sun.’
    • ‘Now we're racing, gliding past the San Francisco waterfront with a sea lion porpoising alongside.’
    • ‘Sea lions gain speed by porpoising, leaping clear of the water and then gliding near the water's surface to minimize resistance.’
    • ‘I shot off reel after reel of film on the oceanic birds following the ship, shared in the watch on the depth finder, watched whales in the distance and penguins porpoising through the water like flying fish.’
    • ‘This fish stripped virtually all the line from the reel and resulted in a fair bit of time to retrieve and then it was off again porpoising across the water - a magnificent sight.’
    • ‘The porpoising type of rolling that is so common seemed to be undertaken by tench that were merely working their way along their patrol route.’
    • ‘Although energetically advantageous when swimming near the water surface, both wave-riding and porpoising have been described for only a limited number of marine mammal species moving at high speeds.’
    • ‘One way around this limitation would have been to adopt a swimming style known as porpoising.’
    • ‘Swimming often includes porpoising (repeatedly breaking the water's surface with enough momentum to lift the bird into the air for about one meter.)’
    • ‘He was out with a client who said that he had not seen so many salmon anywhere, and Gary witnessed vast amounts fish head-and-tailing, porpoising their way up-river half-an-hour after high tide.’
    • ‘Since that publication several studies documented porpoising behavior at high speeds.’
    • ‘Finally, as the relative thrust decreases, the gains due to porpoising also decrease.’
    • ‘Several adelies are porpoising between the new islands and the ice.’
    • ‘Interrupted forms of locomotion, including wave-riding and porpoising when near the water surface or gliding when descending on a dive, enables marine mammals to mitigate some of these costs.’
    • ‘As we porpoise back to shore, I know that I can go deeper.’
    • ‘California sea lions porpoised through the waves to circle our boats.’
    • ‘But down by the water's edge porpoising adelie penguins are jumping ashore clean, wet and plump from the icy Southern Ocean.’
    • ‘The approach to James Ross is through the Antarctic Sound, a beautiful stretch of water teeming with wildlife - the ship was joined by hundreds of penguins porpoising along, as well as humpback whales and countless seabirds.’


Middle English: from Old French porpois, based on Latin porcus pig + piscis fish rendering earlier porcus marinus sea hog.