noun, plural wal·rus·es, (especially collectively) wal·rus.
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Origin of walrus
Words nearby walrus
BEHIND THE WORD
Where does the word walrus come from?
The walrus is, no doubt, a funny-looking animal. It’s got a droopy, hangdog kind of face, grumpy-old-man whiskers, and two ludicrous-looking tusks. (No offense to any walruses who may be reading this.)
So, it seems fitting that walrus also has a funny origin story: it may literally mean “whale-horse.” Well, that’s a theory.
The origins of the word walrus are disputed. In fact, the writer of the famous Lord of the Rings books, J. R. R. Tolkien, came up with no fewer than six different possible origins of the word.
Anyway, even if it’s not entirely true, the story goes that walrus comes from Dutch. Walvis means “whale” and ros means “horse.” Combine it all together and a walrus is a “whale-horse.” Which, if you look at this wonderful animal, seems like a fitting name for it.
The roots of these other words may get a rise—of laughter or surprise—out of you too. Run on over to our roundup of them at “Weird Word Origins That Will Make Your Family Laugh.”
Did you know … ?
- The walrus’s tusks aren’t just for show: they use them to fend off predators, and the top males are the ones with the longest tusks.
- You can even tell how old a walrus is based on its tusks.
- Walrus tusks also help tell them apart from the similar animals of seals and sea lions, if these groups of animals confuse you.
- The word walrus only has one L and one S, so watch out for misspelling it as “wallrus” or “walruss.”
The walrus’s whiskers are so memorable that a person with a droopy moustache is said to have a walrus moustache.
Example sentences from the Web for walrus
Her work has appeared in The Walrus, Toronto Life, Hazlitt, This, and The Guardian.
Then he jumped to the front, and sent a bullet into the breast of the walrus.First at the North Pole|Edward Stratemeyer
Walrus after walrus was shot by Nansen, while Henriksen was busy with his harpoon to prevent them sinking.Fridtjof Nansen|Jacob B. Bull
The ball seemed to take effect, for the walrus dived immediately with a violent splutter, and was seen no more.The Giant of the North|R.M. Ballantyne
Taking advantage of this, we had made twelve hundred pounds of dog pemmican from walrus meat.My Attainment of the Pole|Frederick A. Cook
Whatever explanation be attempted of this apparition, the ordinary resource of seal or walrus will not avail here.The Romance of Natural History, Second Series|Philip Henry Gosse