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Cetacea

n.

order of marine mammals containing whales, 1830, Modern Latin, from Latin cetus "any large sea creature" (whales, seals, dolphins), from Greek ketos "a whale, a sea monster," of unknown origin, + -acea. Hence cetology "the study of whales," first attested 1851 in "Moby Dick."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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