Definition of whalebone in US English:

whalebone

noun

  • 1An elastic horny substance which grows in a series of thin parallel plates in the upper jaw of some whales and is used by them to strain plankton from the seawater.

    Also called baleen
    • ‘Seafarers made household utensils, such as sewing tools, from whalebone, and today scrimshaw is as much associated with Nantucket as the lightship baskets unique to the island.’
    • ‘Upon his return from his whaling voyages, his ships were laden with typical whaling ship cargo like sperm oil and whalebone.’
    • ‘In June 1843 it was reported that about seventy tons of oil and several tons of whalebone had been secured that season.’
    • ‘They sat through lectures, touched whalebone, poured over maps and even tried their hand at balancing a harpoon.’
    • ‘Whales and dolphins were also hunted for their meat, as well as other useful products such as whalebone and fat.’
    • ‘The valuable products of whaling, including whale oil, whalebone, and spermaceti for candle-making, provided the bulk of NSW's exports during the 1830s.’
    • ‘Whaling for this species began near Spitsbergen, Norway, as early as 1611 and continued until the early 1900s when the animal's numbers became too low to be economically viable and the demand for whalebone ended.’
    • ‘The bow itself could be simply of wood or of a composite of horn or whalebone placed between two thin pieces of yew and covered in tendon, while steel bows appear from the 14th century.’
    • ‘One of the most useful types of bone, although not the easiest to get hold of, was whalebone.’
    • ‘Although baleen is commonly called whalebone, it is not bone but keratin, the same material as your nails and hair.’
    1. 1.1 Strips of whalebone, formerly used as stays in corsets and dresses.
      as modifier ‘a whalebone bodice’
      • ‘Older women can afford to agree that femininity is a charade, a matter of colored hair, ecru lace and whalebones, the kind of slap and tat that transvestites are in love with, and no more.’
      • ‘I bet Susan would look really good in a whalebone corset and a bustle.’
      • ‘Rumour has it that having purchased a sheer evening gown for one of her social events she found the corset with whalebones totally unacceptable under the dress.’
      • ‘When we wear them we come out bruised and cut where the whalebone digs in.’
      • ‘She was one of those astonishing Victorian women who conquered mountains and crossed scorching deserts corseted in whalebone and steel, sporting smart designer tweeds and improbable hats.’
      • ‘As she pulled at the laces of the tight whalebone corset, she gave a little gasp.’
      • ‘Corsets fell out of style in the 1850s, but returned later in the 19th Century; made of canvas with steel or whalebone casings, they were designed to give women 13-inch waists.’
      • ‘Philippa survived the murder attempt, when Walter stabbed her, because her whalebone corset protected her.’
      • ‘As I pushed through the last strings of a job lot of whalebone corsets, I was finally able to come upon the books.’
      • ‘The next essential garment was the corset stiffened with thin strips of whalebone.’
      • ‘I recall one small urchin without a rag of clothing save the basque waist of a lady's dress, bristling with whalebones, and worn wrong side before, beneath which his smooth ebony legs emerged like those of an ostrich from its plumage.’
      • ‘Though earlier stays did not shape the breasts, by the mid eighteenth century whalebone strips curved around the bosom.’
    2. 1.2 Bone or ivory from a whale or walrus.
      • ‘And quite right too, cause there are only three interesting things in Poland (Auschwitz, the European bison, and an old whalebone in Krakow cathedral.’
      • ‘But Scarborough councillors recommended keeping the whalebones in Whitby by agreeing to a request by Whitby Archives to display them at its building, The Trinity Centre in Flowergate.’
      • ‘Moves are afoot to preserve a whalebone in Birsay which has stood overlooking the sea for more than a century.’
      • ‘He works in wood, ivory, whalebone, and bronze, and after a year in Europe he brought several tons of Cararra marble home with him to Suquamish.’
      • ‘While many supports were used, ivory or whalebone, was the most common.’

Pronunciation

whalebone

/ˈ(h)weɪlˌboʊn//ˈ(h)wālˌbōn/