General English

General Science

  • noun a very large mammal living in the sea.


  • Animal of the largest mammal order Cetacea which, although it breathes air, lives in the sea. There are various species ranging in weight from 2 to 120 tonnes, although dolphins and porpoises which are the same family may be considerably smaller than this. They are hunted for their subcutaneous fat (blubber) which is further processed into whale oil, and the flesh which finds a ready sale in Japan and East Asia. Once a major food source for the inhabitants of Arctic and northern latitudes.

Origin & History of “whale”

Whale comes from a prehistoric Germanic *khwal-, which also produced Swedish and Danish hval and the wal- of German walfisch ‘whale’. The expression a whale of, meaning ‘no end of’, originated in the USA towards the end of the 19th century.