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2017 Word of the Year

Whales

[hweylz, weylz] /ʰweɪlz, weɪlz/
noun
1.
Bay of, an inlet of the Ross Sea, in Antarctica: location of Little America.

whale1

[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
noun, plural whales (especially collectively) whale.
1.
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.
2.
Informal. something big, great, or fine of its kind:
I had a whale of a time in Europe.
3.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cetus.
verb (used without object), whaled, whaling.
4.
to engage in whaling or whale fishing.
Origin of whale1
900
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.

whale2

[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
verb, whaled, whaling
1.
to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.
Origin
First recorded in 1780-90; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Whales
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thor caught two Whales and carried them to the giant's house, as he had promised.

    Classic Myths Mary Catherine Judd
  • I've been turnin' out another school of swordfish and Whales, too.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • It is so with earthquakes, cases of hydrophobia, Whales stranded on the shore.

  • Then we ran close to the neighborhood of a school of Whales, evidently feeding.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
  • He did so, but he said that they were not Whales; they were porpoises.

    Rollo on the Atlantic Jacob Abbott
British Dictionary definitions for Whales

whale1

/weɪl/
noun (pl) whales, whale
1.
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
2.
any cetacean mammal See also toothed whale, whalebone whale
3.
(slang) a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
4.
(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

whale2

/weɪl/
verb
1.
(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 Whales

whale

n.

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.

whale

v.

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

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

whale 1

noun

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

whale 2

noun

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

verb

  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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Word Value for Whales

12
12
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