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right whale

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
1715-25; 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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for right-whale
Historical Examples
  • On the separate subject of the Greenland or right-whale, he is the best existing authority.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • And the right-whale, not to be done in oddity, carries all his on his gums.

    Madam How and Lady Why Charles Kingsley
British Dictionary definitions for right-whale

right whale

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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