[hwey-ling, wey-]

1680–90; whale1 + -ing1

antiwhaling, adjective
nonwhaling, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged


1 [hweyl, weyl]
noun, plural whales (especially collectively) whale.
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.
verb (used without object), whaled, whaling.
to engage in whaling or whale fishing.

before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæl; cognate with German Wal- in Walfisch, Old Norse hvalr; perhaps akin to Latin squalus kind of fish


2 [hweyl, weyl]
verb, whaled, whaling.
to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.

1780–90; origin uncertain

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
whale1 (weɪl)
n , pl whales, whale
1.  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 headRelated: cetacean
2.  toothed whale See also whalebone whale any cetacean mammal
3.  slang a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
4.  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
Related: cetacean
[Old English hwæl; related to Old Saxon, Old High German hwal, Old Norse hvalr, Latin squalus seapig]

whale2 (weɪl)
(tr) to beat or thrash soundly
[C18: variant of wale1]

whaling (ˈweɪlɪŋ)
1.  the work or industry of hunting and processing whales for food, oil, etc
2.  informal (intensifier): a whaling good time

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. hwæl, from P.Gmc. *khwalaz (cf. O.S. hwal, O.N. hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swed. val, M.Du. wal, walvisc, Du. walvis, O.H.G. wal, Ger. Wal); probably cognate with L. 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.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Whale definition

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.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
But such whaling, paired with high seas expeditions, brought many whales to the
  brink of extinction.
Artifacts also illuminate the group's potlatches, secret societies and open-sea
He had interrupted his studies for a stint as ship's surgeon aboard a whaling
The two-day trips also include a walking tour of the local whaling village
  conducted by a native guide.
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