Definition of whalebone in English:

whalebone

noun

mass 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
    • ‘They sat through lectures, touched whalebone, poured over maps and even tried their hand at balancing a harpoon.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Upon his return from his whaling voyages, his ships were laden with typical whaling ship cargo like sperm oil and whalebone.’
    • ‘Whales and dolphins were also hunted for their meat, as well as other useful products such as whalebone and fat.’
    • ‘Although baleen is commonly called whalebone, it is not bone but keratin, the same material as your nails and hair.’
    • ‘In June 1843 it was reported that about seventy tons of oil and several tons of whalebone had been secured that season.’
    • ‘One of the most useful types of bone, although not the easiest to get hold of, was whalebone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The valuable products of whaling, including whale oil, whalebone, and spermaceti for candle-making, provided the bulk of NSW's exports during the 1830s.’
    1. 1.1 Strips of whalebone, formerly used as stays in corsets and dresses.
      as modifier ‘a whalebone bodice’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As I pushed through the last strings of a job lot of whalebone corsets, I was finally able to come upon the books.’
      • ‘Philippa survived the murder attempt, when Walter stabbed her, because her whalebone corset protected her.’
      • ‘The next essential garment was the corset stiffened with thin strips of whalebone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I bet Susan would look really good in a whalebone corset and a bustle.’
      • ‘Though earlier stays did not shape the breasts, by the mid eighteenth century whalebone strips curved around the bosom.’

Pronunciation

whalebone

/ˈweɪlbəʊn/