[si-tey-shuh n]
See more synonyms for cetacean on Thesaurus.com
  1. a cetacean mammal.

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 for cetacean

mammal, whale, grampus, dolphin, beluga, porpoise, orca, cete

Examples from the Web for cetacean

Historical Examples of cetacean

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)
  1. a whale

Word Origin for cetacean

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.

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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.