Main definitions of whale in English

: whale1whale2

whale1

noun

  • A very large marine mammal with a streamlined hairless body, a horizontal tail fin, and a blowhole on top of the head for breathing.

    • ‘These whales have been hunted to near extinction, and only about 2,500 exist today.’
    • ‘Acoustical energy generated by the bodies of whales or large schools of fish can be lower still.’
    • ‘Scientists believe that now fewer than a hundred of the whales ply the waters near Alaska.’
    • ‘We were told that whale sharks, whales and dolphins are abundant during the summer, between November and April.’
    • ‘Dugongs are one of those sea creatures like porpoises and whales which should be completely protected by law.’
    • ‘However, paleontology as a whole encompasses all life, from bacteria to whales.’
    • ‘Up until quite recently we had no idea of the numbers and variety of the whales, dolphins and porpoises round our coast.’
    • ‘Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoise and whales are common around the islands.’
    • ‘Native peoples are still allowed to hunt these whales for food.’
    • ‘By the Miocene, whales of both lineages are relatively common fossils in many marine deposits.’
    • ‘Fur seals, elephant seals, and the great whales were all hunted to the brink of extinction.’
    • ‘How many harbours play host to everything from seahorses and frogfish to whales and dolphins?’
    • ‘Marine mammals include narwhals, beluga whales, walrus, and ringed and bearded seals.’
    • ‘It is our hope and prayer that the humpback and other whales will be protected in the West Indies and other parts of the world.’
    • ‘Orkney folk are being urged to keep a look out for whales, dolphins and porpoises this weekend.’
    • ‘Come face to face with polar bears, walruses, harbour seals and beluga whales.’
    • ‘As many as four generations of whales live together in some of these matrilineal groups.’
    • ‘We saw minke whales, hump backed whales, bald eagles, puffins and moose.’
    • ‘They follow the breaking edge of the summer ice to hunt for seals, and are even known to attack beluga whales in the water.’
    • ‘Laboratory examinations of the heads of the whales showed trauma induced by sound.’
    cetacean, leviathan
    View synonyms

Origin

Old English hwæl, of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation:

whale

/weɪl/

Main definitions of whale in English

: whale1whale2

whale2

verb

[WITH OBJECT]North American
informal
  • Beat; hit:

    ‘Dad came upstairs and whaled me’
    [no object] ‘they whaled at the water with their paddles’
    • ‘With that being said, I whaled the hilt off of her skull, and she fell practically lifeless.’
    • ‘He really whaled her, screaming and yelling and carrying on like a demented guy.’
    • ‘They whaled on Chapman before he could rise from his top bunk, shared with some 60 others in close barracks.’
    • ‘I wondered why I should get whaled so, while Nerida, who was older, got off with a You-mustn't-do-that, darling.’

Origin

Late 18th century: variant of wale.

Pronunciation:

whale

/weɪl/