• synonyms


[si-tey-shuh n]
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  1. belonging to the Cetacea, an order of aquatic, chiefly marine mammals, including the whales and dolphins.
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  1. a cetacean mammal.
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Origin of cetacean

1830–40; < New Latin Cetace(a) name of the order (see cet-, -acea) + -an
Related formsce·ta·ceous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for cetacean

Historical Examples

  • Dissection of a small Cetacean sent to me from Orkney in the month of May 1835.

    Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society - Vol. 3


  • There is one passage which seems to imply that the word tannin may signify a cetacean.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

  • By nature, this cetacean prefers a cold climate to a warm one.

  • This cetacean was obtained on the coast of the island of Rugen, in the Baltic.


    T. Spencer Cobbold

  • The tail was of the Cetacean pattern, and thus like that of Halicore.

British Dictionary definitions for cetacean


adjective Also: cetaceous
  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the Cetacea, an order of aquatic placental mammals having no hind limbs and a blowhole for breathing: includes toothed whales (dolphins, porpoises, etc) and whalebone whales (rorquals, right whales, etc)
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  1. a whale
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Word Origin

C19: from New Latin Cētācea, ultimately from Latin cētus whale, from Greek kētos
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 cetacean


1836, from Cetacea, name of the order of marine mammals, + -an. As an adjective from 1839.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cetacean in Science


  1. Any of various, often very large aquatic mammals of the order Cetacea, having a hairless body that resembles that of a fish. Cetaceans have an elongated skull, a flat, horizontal tail, forelimbs modified into broad flippers, and no hind limbs. They breathe through blowholes located usually at the top of the skull. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are cetaceans. See more at baleen whale toothed whale.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.