• synonyms


[hwelk, welk]
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  1. any of several large, spiral-shelled, marine gastropods of the family Buccinidae, especially Buccinum undatum, that is used for food in Europe.

Origin of whelk1

before 900; late Middle English, aspirated variant of Middle English welk, Old English weoloc


[hwelk, welk]
  1. a pimple or pustule.

Origin of whelk2

before 1000; Middle English whelke, Old English hwylca, hwelca; akin to wheal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whelk

Historical Examples

  • And another young devil yelled, "The Whelk's brought a pet with him!"

    The Longest Journey

    E. M. Forster

  • But the fact is that the eggs of the whelk are just like those of the frog.

  • The whelk shell (Fig. 482) appears in the arms of Storey and Wilkinson.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • Like the whelk, he loves the bivalve mollusk, but does not bore for it.

    A Breeze from the Woods, 2nd Ed.

    William Chauncey Bartlett

  • The whelk had no idea how to teach any one, so the subject dropped.

    The Ravens and the Angels

    Elizabeth Rundle Charles

British Dictionary definitions for whelk


  1. any carnivorous marine gastropod mollusc of the family Buccinidae, of coastal waters and intertidal regions, having a strong snail-like shell

Word Origin

Old English weoloc; related to Middle Dutch willok, Old Norse vil entrails


  1. a raised lesion on the skin; wheal
Derived Formswhelky, adjective

Word Origin

Old English hwylca, of obscure origin
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

Word Origin and History for whelk


large marine snail, Old English weoloc, wioloc, from Proto-Germanic *weluka- (cf. Middle Dutch willoc, Dutch wulk), perhaps from PIE root *wel- "to turn, revolve" (see volvox; cf. also volute). The spelling with wh- dates from 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

whelk in Medicine


  1. An inflamed swelling, such as a pimple or pustule.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.