• synonyms


[hwelp, welp]
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  1. the young of the dog, or of the wolf, bear, lion, tiger, seal, etc.
  2. a youth, especially an impudent or despised one.
  3. Machinery.
    1. any of a series of longitudinal projections or ridges on the barrel of a capstan, windlass, etc.
    2. any of the teeth of a sprocket wheel.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. (of a female dog, lion, etc.) to give birth to (young).
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Origin of whelp

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English hwelp (cognate with German Welf); (v.) Middle English whelpen, derivative of the noun
Related formswhelp·less, adjectiveun·whelped, adjective


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2. brat, urchin, whippersnapper.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whelp

Historical Examples

  • Stop that barkin', now, you whelp, Or I'll kick you till you yelp!

    Farm Ballads

    Will Carleton

  • For as the lion's whelp may be called a lion, or the horse's foal a foal, so the son of a king may be called a king.

  • "It seems you love that—whelp, that thing that was my brother," he said, sneering.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Give the whelp a couple of half-crowns, Halkett, and send him adrift.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan

    Charles James Lever

  • How came you here, you vagabond Irish whelp, in this company?

    Sir Ludar

    Talbot Baines Reed

British Dictionary definitions for whelp


  1. a young offspring of certain animals, esp of a wolf or dog
  2. derogatory a young man or youth
  3. jocular a young child
  4. nautical any of the ridges, parallel to the axis, on the drum of a capstan to keep a rope, cable, or chain from slipping
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  1. (of an animal or, disparagingly, a woman) to give birth to (young)
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Word Origin

Old English hwelp (a); related to Old High German hwelf, Old Norse hvelpr, Danish hvalp
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 whelp


Old English hwelp "whelp, young of the dog," from a Germanic root related to Old Saxon hwelp, Old Norse hvelpr, Dutch welp, German hwelf; of unknown origin. Now largely displaced by puppy. Also applied to wild animals. Sense of "scamp" first recorded early 14c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper