Whale, n. [OE. whal, AS. hwael; akin to D. wal visch, G. wal, wal fisch, OHG. wal, Icel. hvalr, Dan. & Sw. hval, hval fisk. Cf. Narwhal, Walrus.] Zool.
Any aquatic mammal of the order Cetacea, especially any one of the large species, some of which become nearly one hundred feet long. Whales are hunted chiefly for their oil and baleen, or whalebone.
<-- since the 1920's and the replacement of whale oil by petroleum products and electricity, whales have been hunted primarily for their meat. Due to dramatic decreases in the whale population, the International Whaling Commission was formed to regulate the hunt, so as to avoid extinction of the endangered species. In the 1990's, only a few countries continued to hunt whales in significant numbers. -->
⇒ The existing whales are divided into two groups: the toothed whales (Odontocete), including those that have teeth, as the cachalot, or sperm whale (see Sperm whale); and the baleen, or whalebone, whales (Mysticete), comprising those that are destitute of teeth, but have plates of baleen hanging from the upper jaw, as the right whales. The most important species of whalebone whales are the bowhead, or Greenland, whale (see Illust. of Right whale), the Biscay whale, the Antarctic whale, the gray whale (see under Gray), the humpback, the finback, and the rorqual.
Whale bird. Zool. (a) Any one of several species of large Antarctic petrels which follow whaling vessels, to feed on the blubber and floating oil; especially, Prion turtur (called also blue petrel), and Pseudoprion desolatus. (b) The turnstone; -- so called because it lives on the carcasses of whales. [Canada] -- Whale fin Com., whalebone. Simmonds. -- Whale fishery, the fishing for, or occupation of taking, whales. -- Whale louse Zool., any one of several species of degraded amphipod crustaceans belonging to the genus Cyamus, especially C. ceti. They are parasitic on various cetaceans. -- Whale's bone, ivory. [Obs.] -- Whale shark. Zool. (a) The basking, or liver, shark. (b) A very large harmless shark (Rhinodon typicus) native of the Indian Ocean. It sometimes becomes sixty feet long. -- Whale shot, the name formerly given to spermaceti. -- Whale's tongue Zool., a balanoglossus.
© Webster 1913.
Whale (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Whaled (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Whaling.] [Cf. Wale. ]
To lash with stripes; to wale; to thrash; to drub.
[Prov. Eng. & Colloq. U. S.]
© Webster 1913.