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[dol-fin, dawl-] /ˈdɒl fɪn, ˈdɔl-/
any of several chiefly marine, cetacean mammals of the family Delphinidae, having a fishlike body, numerous teeth, and the front of the head elongated into a beaklike projection.
Also called dolphinfish, mahimahi, pompano dolphin. either of two large, slender fishes, Coryphaena hippurus or C. equisetis, of warm and temperate seas.
  1. a pile, cluster of piles, or buoy to which a vessel may be moored in open water.
  2. a cluster of piles used as a fender, as at the entrance to a dock.
  3. a pudding fender at the nose of a tugboat or on the side of a vessel.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Delphinus.
1300-50; Middle English dolphyn < Old French daulphin < Old Provençal dalfin < Vulgar Latin *dalfīnus, Latin delphīnus < Greek delphī́n Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for dolphins
  • Cruel fishing methods once again endanger dolphins.
  • In spite of laws intended to protect them, federal indifference and cruel fishing methods once again endanger dolphins.
  • The lungs and thorax were essentially the same in a dolphin as in a human being, yet dolphins survived great depths.
  • Farmers in the floodplain build houses and barns on stilts and watch pink dolphins sport from their doorsteps.
  • dolphins raced alongside the boat, dodging under its outriggers and occasionally leaping high out of the clear blue water.
  • Roughly speaking, these animals filled the ecological niches now occupied by toothed cetaceans such as dolphins and killer whales.
  • The sea teems with giant lobsters, turtles and leaping dolphins.
  • Such material can cause outrage among consumers, as was the case with videos of dolphins caught in tuna nets.
  • So long and thanks for all the fish: researchers train for contact with aliens by trying to communicate with dolphins.
  • If you think of things that are intelligent you might think of dolphins or parrots, or even fish.
British Dictionary definitions for dolphins


any of various marine cetacean mammals of the family Delphinidae, esp Delphinus delphis, that are typically smaller than whales and larger than porpoises and have a beaklike snout
river dolphin, any freshwater cetacean of the family Platanistidae, inhabiting rivers of North and South America and S Asia. They are smaller than marine dolphins and have a longer narrower snout
Also called dorado. either of two large marine percoid fishes, Coryphaena hippurus or C. equisetis, that resemble the cetacean dolphins and have an iridescent coloration
(nautical) a post or buoy for mooring a vessel
Word Origin
C13: from Old French dauphin, via Latin, from Greek delphin-, delphis
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 dolphins



mid-14c., from Old French daulphin, from Medieval Latin dolfinus, from Latin delphinus "dolphin," from Greek delphis (genitive delphinos) "dolphin," related to delphys "womb," perhaps via notion of the animal bearing live young, or from its shape, from PIE *gwelbh-. Popularly applied to the dorado from late 16c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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