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the work or industry of capturing and rendering ; fishing.
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.
to engage in or whale fishing.
to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.
Contemporary Examples

I do have a certain amount of moral discomfort because of the situation with whaling.
How to Think With Your Gut Mindy Farabee April 8, 2013

The younger the respondent, the lower the support for whaling.
I’ll Have the Whale, Please: Japan’s Unsustainable Whale Hunts Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky February 4, 2013

Bronstein makes an annual offer to send crews aboard the Japanese whaling fleet or even just interview representatives.
The Whale Wars Season Premiere Andy Dehnart June 1, 2011

“We have the show that may be the closing note on whaling in the Southern Ocean,” she said.
The Whale Wars Season Premiere Andy Dehnart June 1, 2011

His great grandfather sailed from Cape Verde and was involved in the whaling industry of Nantucket Island, Mass.
Inside The Growing Organic Halal Movement Sharon Adarlo September 6, 2014

Historical Examples

The whaling captains and I watched the meeting with intense interest.
A Modern Buccaneer Rolf Boldrewood

The father of these three children had been lost at sea on a whaling voyage.
Bertha and Her Baptism Nehemiah Adams

The method of whaling with poisoned arrows or throwing-spears must, as has been said, be very ancient.
In Northern Mists (Volume 2 of 2) Fridtjof Nansen

Why did the Dutch in De Witt’s time have admirals of their whaling fleets?
Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville

He went to sea on a whaling vessel and was lost during his first voyage.
American Inventions and Inventors William A. Mowry

the work or industry of hunting and processing whales for food, oil, etc
(informal) (intensifier): a whaling good time
noun (pl) whales, 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 head related adjective cetacean
any cetacean mammal See also toothed whale, whalebone whale
(slang) a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
(informal) a whale of a, an exceptionally large, fine, etc, example of a (person or thing): we had a whale of a time on holiday
(transitive) to beat or thrash soundly

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.).


: By passing his vocal sounds through an amplifier with the aid of a wah-wah pedal, he has achieved spectacular effects/ Mike McCready’s wahwah pedaling?


A pronounced wavering, scooping sound from an instrument, the voice, etc: imitations of animal sounds such as wah-wahs on trumpets and trombones/ Then Wah-Wah Waddy breaks into his est funkadeli solo (1920s+ Musicians)
pedal-operated electronic device for producing wah-wahs, esp on electric guitars: the same kind of highly-perfected control over use of the wah-wah, distortion, and amplifier

[echoic; interestingly similar to Chinook jargon wawa, ”speech, talk,” and to Cree wawa, an echoic name for the snow goose, Canada goose, and gray goose]

noun phrase

An excellent or large example; a very superior specimen: That woman is a whale of a politician

[1900+ Students; fr the prodigious size of the whale]

verb phrase

To lose all one’s money; go broke, tap out (1950s+ Gambling)

Related Terms


The Hebrew word _tan_ (plural, tannin) is so rendered in Job 7:12 (A.V.; but R.V., “sea-monster”). It is rendered by “dragons” in Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13; Jer. 51:34; Ps. 74:13 (marg., “whales;” and marg. of R.V., “sea-monsters”); Isa. 27:1; and “serpent” in Ex. 7:9 (R.V. marg., “any large reptile,” and so in ver. 10, 12). The words of Job (7:12), uttered in bitter irony, where he asks, “Am I a sea or a whale?” simply mean, “Have I a wild, untamable nature, like the waves of the sea, which must be confined and held within bounds, that they cannot pass?” “The serpent of the sea, which was but the wild, stormy sea itself, wound itself around the land, and threatened to swallow it up…Job inquires if he must be watched and plagued like this monster, lest he throw the world into disorder” (Davidson’s Job). The whale tribe are included under the general Hebrew name _tannin_ (Gen. 1:21; Lam. 4:3). “Even the sea-monsters [tanninim] draw out the breast.” The whale brings forth its young alive, and suckles them. It is to be noticed of the story of Jonah’s being “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly,” as recorded in Matt. 12:40, that here the Gr. ketos means properly any kind of sea-monster of the shark or the whale tribe, and that in the book of Jonah (1:17) it is only said that “a great fish” was prepared to swallow Jonah. This fish may have been, therefore, some great shark. The white shark is known to frequent the Mediterranean Sea, and is sometimes found 30 feet in length.


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