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narwhal

[nahr-wuh l] /ˈnɑr wəl/
noun
1.
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)
.
Origin
1650-1660
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
narwhalian
[nahr-hwey-lee-uh n, -wey-, -wol-ee-] /nɑrˈʰweɪ li ən, -ˈweɪ-, -ˈwɒl i-/ (Show IPA),
adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for narwhal
  • The narwhal's single, spiral tusk has always been a mystery.
British Dictionary definitions for narwhal

narwhal

/ˈnɑːwəl/
noun
1.
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
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Word Origin and History for narwhal
n.

1650s, from Danish and Norwegian narhval, probably a metathesis of Old Norse nahvalr, literally "corpse-whale," from na "corpse" + hvalr "whale" (see whale). So called from resemblance of its whitish color to that of dead bodies. The first element is from PIE *nau- "death; to be exhausted" (cf. Old English ne, neo, Gothic naus "corpse," Old Cornish naun, Old Church Slavonic navi, Old Prussian nowis "corpse," Lettish nawe "death," Lithuanian novyti "to torture, kill").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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13
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