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[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
noun, plural whales (especially collectively) whale.
any of the larger marine mammals of the order Cetacea, especially as distinguished from the smaller dolphins and porpoises, having a fishlike body, forelimbs modified into flippers, and a head that is horizontally flattened.
Informal. something big, great, or fine of its kind:
I had a whale of a time in Europe.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cetus.
verb (used without object), whaled, whaling.
to engage in whaling or whale fishing.
Origin of whale1
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæl; cognate with German Wal- in Walfisch, Old Norse hvalr; perhaps akin to Latin squalus kind of fish
Can be confused
wail, whale.


[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
verb, whaled, whaling
to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.
1780-90; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for whaled
Historical Examples
  • He saw no reason why he should not push on; and in the Egyptian obliquity of his heart, he 'whaled' his ass to a degree.

  • I whaled Dan good when he brought that piece back from school.

    "Captains Courageous" Rudyard Kipling
  • Since his death, I have grown to liking the man much better; in fact ever since I whaled him.

    Vandemark's Folly Herbert Quick
  • I could have whaled it to them all right now, but a shell jammed.

    Plain Mary Smith Henry Wallace Phillips
  • He lammed me when he was drunk, and he whaled me when he was sober.

    Danny's Own Story Don Marquis
  • Just now he recognized his mother and she whaled away and gave him a whack for his pains.

    The Rainbow Trail Zane Grey
  • The Dutch also whaled with long ropes, as is now our method.

  • When I wuz a little shaver my ma told me always to mind my manners, an' when I didn't she whaled the life out of me.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Take your hat off to that chechacko who has just whaled you blind.

    The Yukon Trail William MacLeod Raine
  • I ricolleck one time I seed a big feller a bullyin' a po' little devil, an' I told him to quit an' he wouldn't, an' I whaled him.

    The Starbucks Opie Percival Read
British Dictionary definitions for whaled


noun (pl) whales, whale
any of the larger cetacean mammals, excluding dolphins, porpoises, and narwhals. They have flippers, a streamlined body, and a horizontally flattened tail and breathe through a blowhole on the top of the head related adjective cetacean
any cetacean mammal See also toothed whale, whalebone whale
(slang) a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
(informal) a whale of a, an exceptionally large, fine, etc, example of a (person or thing): we had a whale of a time on holiday
Word Origin
Old English hwæl; related to Old Saxon, Old High German hwal, Old Norse hvalr, Latin squalus seapig


(transitive) to beat or thrash soundly
Word Origin
C18: variant of wale1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whaled



Old English hwæl, from Proto-Germanic *khwalaz (cf. Old Saxon hwal, Old Norse hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swedish val, Middle Dutch wal, walvisc, Dutch walvis, Old High German wal, German Wal); probably cognate with Latin squalus "a kind of large sea fish." Phrase whale of a "excellent or large example" is c.1900, student slang.


"beat, whip severely," 1790, possibly a variant of wale (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for whaled

whale 1


A large or fat person; beached whale (1900+)

whale 2


A heavy blow: She gave him a hard whale to the nose


  1. To hit; thrash; trounce: They whaled us six–zip/ She hauled off and whaled him a shrewd blow (1790+)
  2. (also wail) To do extremely well; excel (1980s+ Students)

[fr British dialect spelling of wale, ''strike, beat,'' perhaps related to Old English wœl, ''slaughter, carnage, death'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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whaled in the Bible

The Hebrew word _tan_ (plural, tannin) is so rendered in Job 7:12 (A.V.; but R.V., "sea-monster"). It is rendered by "dragons" in Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13; Jer. 51:34; Ps. 74:13 (marg., "whales;" and marg. of R.V., "sea-monsters"); Isa. 27:1; and "serpent" in Ex. 7:9 (R.V. marg., "any large reptile," and so in ver. 10, 12). The words of Job (7:12), uttered in bitter irony, where he asks, "Am I a sea or a whale?" simply mean, "Have I a wild, untamable nature, like the waves of the sea, which must be confined and held within bounds, that they cannot pass?" "The serpent of the sea, which was but the wild, stormy sea itself, wound itself around the land, and threatened to swallow it up...Job inquires if he must be watched and plagued like this monster, lest he throw the world into disorder" (Davidson's Job). The whale tribe are included under the general Hebrew name _tannin_ (Gen. 1:21; Lam. 4:3). "Even the sea-monsters [tanninim] draw out the breast." The whale brings forth its young alive, and suckles them. It is to be noticed of the story of Jonah's being "three days and three nights in the whale's belly," as recorded in Matt. 12:40, that here the Gr. ketos means properly any kind of sea-monster of the shark or the whale tribe, and that in the book of Jonah (1:17) it is only said that "a great fish" was prepared to swallow Jonah. This fish may have been, therefore, some great shark. The white shark is known to frequent the Mediterranean Sea, and is sometimes found 30 feet in length.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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