[hwey-ling, wey-]
See more synonyms for whaling on Thesaurus.com

Origin of whaling

First recorded in 1680–90; whale1 + -ing1
Related formsan·ti·whal·ing, adjectivenon·whal·ing, adjective


[hweyl, weyl]
noun, plural whales, (especially collectively) whale.
  1. 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.
  2. Informal. something big, great, or fine of its kind: I had a whale of a time in Europe.
  3. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cetus.
verb (used without object), whaled, whal·ing.
  1. to engage in whaling or whale fishing.

Origin of whale

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


[hweyl, weyl]
verb, whaled, whal·ing,
  1. to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.

Origin of whale

First recorded in 1780–90; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whaling

Contemporary Examples of whaling

Historical Examples of whaling

  • You would think he was off on a whaling cruise—three years and a tail.


    Joseph Conrad

  • The father of these three children had been lost at sea on a whaling voyage.

  • Besides, they would exchange the whaling news, and have an agreeable chat.

  • Are you not the precious image of each and all of us men in this whaling world?

  • Why did the Dutch in De Witt's time have admirals of their whaling fleets?

British Dictionary definitions for whaling


  1. the work or industry of hunting and processing whales for food, oil, etc
  1. informal (intensifier)a whaling good time


noun plural whales or whale
  1. 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
  2. any cetacean mammalSee also toothed whale, whalebone whale
  3. slang a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
  4. 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


  1. (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

Word Origin and History for whaling



Old English hwæl, from Proto-Germanic *khwalaz (cf. Old Saxon hwal, Old Norse hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swedish val, Middle Dutch wal, walvisc, Dutch walvis, Old High German wal, German Wal); probably cognate with Latin squalus "a kind of large sea fish." Phrase whale of a "excellent or large example" is c.1900, student slang.



"beat, whip severely," 1790, possibly a variant of wale (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper