noun, plural (especially collectively) porpoise (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) porpoises.
any of several small, gregarious cetaceans of the genus Phocoena, usually blackish above and paler beneath, and having a blunt, rounded snout, especially the common porpoise, P. phocoena, of both the North Atlantic and Pacific.
any of several other small cetaceans, as the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis.
verb (used without object), porpoised, porpoising.
(of a speeding motorboat) to leap clear of the water after striking a wave.
(of a torpedo) to appear above the surface of the water.
to move forward with a rising and falling motion in the manner of a porpoise: The car has a tendency to porpoise when overloaded.

1275–1325; Middle English porpoys < Middle French porpois < Vulgar Latin *porcopiscis hog fish, for Latin porcus marīnus sea hog

porpoiselike, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To porpoise
World English Dictionary
porpoise (ˈpɔːpəs)
n , pl -poises, -poise
1.  any of various small cetacean mammals of the genus Phocaena and related genera, having a blunt snout and many teeth: family Delphinidae (or Phocaenidae)
2.  (not in technical use) any of various related cetaceans, esp the dolphin
[C14: from French pourpois, from Medieval Latin porcopiscus (from Latin porcus pig + piscis fish), replacing Latin porcus marīnus sea pig]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1309, from O.Fr. porpais (12c.), lit. "pork fish," from porc "pork" (see pork) + peis "fish," from L. piscis "fish." The O.Fr. word is probably a loan-translation of a Gmc. word, cf. M.Du. mereswijn "porpoise" (cf. Mod.Fr. marsouin). Classical L. had a similar name, porculus
marinus (in Pliny), and the notion behind the name likely is a fancied resemblance of the snout to that of a pig.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The paddle adventure meanders through orca, porpoise and whale watching
  corridors and into quiet coves that teem with wildlife.
Another shelf groans with the weight of porpoise skulls.
But you have to be pretty smart to hunt a seal or a porpoise.
No, it was probably that way on porpoise, since that's the right way for it to
  keep from turning blue.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature