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[si-tey-shuh n] /sɪˈteɪ ʃən/
belonging to the Cetacea, an order of aquatic, chiefly marine mammals, including the whales and dolphins.
a cetacean mammal.
Origin of cetacean
1830-40; < New Latin Cetace(a) name of the order (see cet-, -acea) + -an
Related forms
cetaceous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cetacean
  • Though less studied, cetacean matriarchs may shepherd kin to lush feeding grounds along migration routes.
  • The changes in the cetacean ear, head, and brain that have heightened this sense are a triumph of adaptation.
  • In general, large cetacean species emit low frequencies and small cetacean species emit high frequencies.
  • My research focuses on cetacean life history and population structure.
  • Environmental models of cetacean abundance: reducing uncertainty in population trends.
  • Application of photogrammetric methods for locating and tracking cetacean movements at sea.
  • Fish otoliths in cetacean stomachs and their importance in interpreting feeding habits.
British Dictionary definitions for cetacean


of, relating to, or belonging to the Cetacea, an order of aquatic placental mammals having no hind limbs and a blowhole for breathing: includes toothed whales (dolphins, porpoises, etc) and whalebone whales (rorquals, right whales, etc)
a whale
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin Cētācea, ultimately from Latin cētus whale, from Greek kētos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cetacean

1836, from Cetacea, name of the order of marine mammals, + -an. As an adjective from 1839.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cetacean in Science
Any of various, often very large aquatic mammals of the order Cetacea, having a hairless body that resembles that of a fish. Cetaceans have an elongated skull, a flat, horizontal tail, forelimbs modified into broad flippers, and no hind limbs. They breathe through blowholes located usually at the top of the skull. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are cetaceans. See more at baleen whale, toothed whale.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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