Get the details behind our redesign


[nahr-wuh l] /ˈnɑr wəl/
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] /ˈnɑrˌʰweɪl, -ˌweɪl/ (Show IPA)
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
Related forms
[nahr-hwey-lee-uh n, -wey-, -wol-ee-] /nɑrˈʰweɪ li ən, -ˈweɪ-, -ˈwɒl i-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples for narwhal
  • The narwhal's single, spiral tusk has always been a mystery.
British Dictionary definitions for narwhal


an arctic toothed whale, Monodon monoceros, having a black-spotted whitish skin and, in the male, a long spiral tusk: family Monodontidae
Word Origin
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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for 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
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for narwhal

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for narwhal

Scrabble Words With Friends