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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.
First recorded in 1780-90; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for whaled
Historical Examples
  • I whaled Dan good when he brought that piece back from school.

    "Captains Courageous" Rudyard Kipling
  • We've whaled all the chaff out of the old straw, but it doesn't do any good.

    The Lash Olin L. Lyman
  • The Dutch also whaled with long ropes, as is now our method.

  • I could have whaled it to them all right now, but a shell jammed.

    Plain Mary Smith Henry Wallace Phillips
  • Take your hat off to that chechacko who has just whaled you blind.

    The Yukon Trail

    William MacLeod Raine
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • I nagged him some this morning, and he was ripe for anything when I whaled away with that rock.

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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