whale

1
[ hweyl, weyl ]
/ ʰweɪl, weɪl /

noun, plural whales, (especially collectively) whale.

any of the larger marine mammals of the order Cetacea, especially as distinguished from the smaller dolphins and porpoises, having a fishlike body, forelimbs modified into flippers, and a head that is horizontally flattened.
Informal. something big, great, or fine of its kind: I had a whale of a time in Europe.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cetus.

verb (used without object), whaled, whal·ing.

to engage in whaling or whale fishing.

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Origin of whale

1
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæl; cognate with German Wal- in Walfisch, Old Norse hvalr; perhaps akin to Latin squalus kind of fish

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH whale

wail whale

Definition for whale (2 of 2)

whale2
[ hweyl, weyl ]
/ ʰweɪl, weɪl /

verb, whaled, whal·ing,

to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.

Origin of whale

2
First recorded in 1780–90; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for whale

British Dictionary definitions for whale (1 of 2)

whale1
/ (weɪl) /

noun plural whales or whale

any of the larger cetacean mammals, excluding dolphins, porpoises, and narwhals. They have flippers, a streamlined body, and a horizontally flattened tail and breathe through a blowhole on the top of the headRelated adjective: cetacean
any cetacean mammalSee also toothed whale, whalebone whale
slang a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
a whale of a informal an exceptionally large, fine, etc, example of a (person or thing)we had a whale of a time on holiday

Word Origin for whale

Old English hwæl; related to Old Saxon, Old High German hwal, Old Norse hvalr, Latin squalus seapig

British Dictionary definitions for whale (2 of 2)

whale2
/ (weɪl) /

verb

(tr) to beat or thrash soundly

Word Origin for whale

C18: variant of wale 1
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