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right whale

noun
1.
any of several large whalebone whales of the genus Balaena, of circumpolar seas: the species B. glacialis is greatly reduced in numbers.
Origin of right whale
1715-1725
1715-25; allegedly so called because it was the “right” whale to hunt, alluding to its relative buoyancy when killed, proximity to land, the value of its blubber, etc.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for right whale
Historical Examples
  • Sea-nettles, or medusae, are well known to constitute the principal food of that species of whale which is termed the right whale.

    The Ocean and its Wonders R.M. Ballantyne
  • There was no other whale in sight; but this was a big fellow—a right whale, or baleener.

    Swept Out to Sea W. Bertram Foster
  • Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den—the bar—a rude attempt at a right whale's head.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • This is a smooth, slim fish—smaller usually than a right whale.

    The Arctic Whaleman Lewis Holmes
  • Black right whale, Biscayan right whale, Biscay whale, Nordcaper right whale.

  • His head and mouth are of the same construction with those of the right whale.

    The Arctic Whaleman Lewis Holmes
  • Crossing the deck, let us now have a good long look at the right whale's head.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • The oil obtained from him is of the same quality as the right whale oil.

    The Arctic Whaleman Lewis Holmes
  • But now forget all about blinds and whiskers for a moment, and, standing in the right whale's mouth, look around you afresh.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • Whalemen have always been puzzled as to the place of breeding for the right whale.

    The Arctic Whaleman Lewis Holmes
British Dictionary definitions for right whale

right whale

noun
1.
any large whalebone whale of the family Balaenidae. They are grey or black, have a large head, and, in most, no dorsal fin, and are hunted as a source of whalebone and oil See also bowhead
Word Origin
C19: perhaps so named because it was right for hunting
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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