narwal

narwhal

[nahr-wuhl]
noun
a small arctic whale, Monodon monoceros, the male of which has a long, spirally twisted tusk extending forward from the upper jaw.
Also, narwal, narwhale [nahr-hweyl, -weyl] .


Origin:
1650–60; < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian, Swedish, Danish nar(h)val, reshaped from Old Norse nāhvalr, equivalent to nār corpse + hvalr whale1; allegedly so called because its skin resembles that of a human corpse

narwhalian [nahr-hwey-lee-uhn, -wey-, -wol-ee-] , adjective
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World English Dictionary
narwhal, narwal or narwhale (ˈnɑːwəl, ˈnɑːˌweɪl)
 
n
an arctic toothed whale, Monodon monoceros, having a black-spotted whitish skin and, in the male, a long spiral tusk: family Monodontidae
 
[C17: of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish, Norwegian narhval, from Old Norse nāhvalr, from nār corpse + hvalr whale, from its white colour, supposed to resemble a human corpse]
 
narwal, narwal or narwhale
 
n
 
[C17: of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish, Norwegian narhval, from Old Norse nāhvalr, from nār corpse + hvalr whale, from its white colour, supposed to resemble a human corpse]
 
narwhale, narwal or narwhale
 
n
 
[C17: of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish, Norwegian narhval, from Old Norse nāhvalr, from nār corpse + hvalr whale, from its white colour, supposed to resemble a human corpse]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

narwhal
1658, from Dan. and Norw. narhval, probably a metathesis of O.N. nahvalr, lit. "corpse-whale," from na "corpse" + hvalr "whale" (see whale). So called from resemblance of whitish color to that of dead bodies. The first element is cognate with O.E. ne, neo, Goth. naus "corpse,"
O.Cornish naun, O.C.S. navi, O.Pruss. nowis "corpse," Lett. nawe "death," Lith. novyti "to torture, kill."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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