Definition of white whale in English:

white whale


  • 1

    another term for beluga (sense 1)
    • ‘Today two-thirds of Alaska's human population, some 400,000 people, share the Cook Inlet watershed - an area roughly the size of Virginia - with the resident white whales.’
    • ‘White whales, also known as belugas, live primarily in the Arctic Ocean and adjoining seas.’
    • ‘Polar scientists have recruited an unlikely pair to aid their exploration of freezing Arctic waters: two wild white whales.’
    • ‘The beluga or white whale is a medium-sized odontocete, widely distributed throughout Arctic waters.’
    • ‘The beluga, or white whale, is smallish as whales go and very cute, if you're into marine mammals.’
  • 2North American An objective that is relentlessly or obsessively pursued but difficult to achieve.

    ‘physicists struggled to close in on the Higgs boson—the great white whale of modern science’
    ‘the project had become his white whale’