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minke

[ming-kee]
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noun
  1. a dark-colored baleen whale, Baleanoptera acutorostrata, inhabiting temperate and polar seas and growing to a length of 33 feet (10 meters): reduced in numbers.
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Origin of minke

1930–35; < Norwegian minkehval, allegedly after a crew member of the Norwegian whaling pioneer Svend Foyn (1809–94), named Meincke, who mistook a pod of minkes for blue whales
Also called minke whale, lesser rorqual.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Word Origin and History for minke

n.

type of small whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), 1939, supposedly from the Norwegian surname Meincke.

The name minke is said to have derived from one of Svend Foyn's crew by the name of Meincke, who mistook a school of these whales for blue whales. Whalers all over the world considered this incident so amusing that they used his name as a household word to describe this species. [J.N. Tønnessen & A.O. Johnsen, "The History of Modern Whaling" (transl. R.I. Christophersen), 1982]

Also known in English as the lesser rorqual and little piked whale.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper