- any of several small, gregarious cetaceans of the genus Phocoena, usually blackish above and paler beneath, and having a blunt, rounded snout, especially the common porpoise, P. phocoena, of both the North Atlantic and Pacific.
- any of several other small cetaceans, as the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis.
- (of a speeding motorboat) to leap clear of the water after striking a wave.
- (of a torpedo) to appear above the surface of the water.
- to move forward with a rising and falling motion in the manner of a porpoise: The car has a tendency to porpoise when overloaded.
Origin of porpoise
Examples from the Web for porpoise
Perhaps, suggested Bell, we might make a ship out of some of the planks of the Porpoise.
But I wonder what the Porpoise was, and what brought her in these seas?
The next business was to move in all the furniture of the Porpoise.
He might as well have tried to get early speed out of a porpoise.Old Man Curry
Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan
Then we've not much to fear from him; but here he is, puffing like a porpoise.The Universal Reciter
- any of various small cetacean mammals of the genus Phocaena and related genera, having a blunt snout and many teeth: family Delphinidae (or Phocaenidae)
- (not in technical use) any of various related cetaceans, esp the dolphin
Word Origin and History for porpoise
The Old French word probably is a loan-translation of a Germanic word meaning literally "sea-hog, mere-swine;" cf. Old Norse mar-svin, Old High German meri-swin, Middle Dutch mereswijn "porpoise" (the last of which also was borrowed directly into French and became Modern French marsouin).
Classical Latin had a similar name, porculus marinus (in Pliny), and the notion behind the name likely is a fancied resemblance of the snout to that of a pig.