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sperm whale

noun
1.
a large, square-snouted whale, Physeter catodon, valued for its oil and spermaceti: now reduced in number and rare in some areas.
Origin of sperm whale
1825-1835
1825-35
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sperm whale
Historical Examples
  • What then shall I liken the sperm whale to for fragrance, considering his magnitude?

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • It is as though the forehead of the sperm whale were paved with horses' hoofs.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • But the sperm whale's food is far beneath the surface, and there he cannot spout even if he would.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • Sure it is, nevertheless, that the sperm whale has no proper olfactories.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • But the sperm whale only breathes about one seventh or Sunday of his time.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • The sperm whale must attack these big creatures in order to get enough food.

    Within the Deep R. Cadwallader Smith
  • The sperm whale has a great, blunt head, a huge mouth, and a throat large enough to swallow a man.

    Within the Deep R. Cadwallader Smith
  • The sperm whale has only a manubrium sterni and a following piece belonging to the mesosternum.

  • The Cachalot or sperm whale, which almost alone among animals roams over the whole ocean, is as large, and much more formidable.

    The Beauties of Nature Sir John Lubbock
  • One of the reasons for the pursuit of the sperm whale is the desire to obtain that extremely valuable product ambergris.

British Dictionary definitions for sperm whale

sperm whale

noun
1.
a large toothed whale, Physeter catodon, having a square-shaped head and hunted for sperm oil, spermaceti, and ambergris: family Physeteridae Also called cachalot
Word Origin
C19: short for spermacetiwhale
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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Word Origin and History for sperm whale
n.

1830, shortening of spermaceti whale (so called because the waxy substance in its head was mistaken for sperm), from spermaceti (1471), from Medieval Latin sperma ceti "sperm of a whale," from Latin sperma (see sperm) + cetus "large sea animal" (see Cetacea). The substance in olden times was credited with medicinal properties, as well as being used for candle oil.

Use ... Sperma Cete ana with redd Wyne when ye wax old. [Sir George Ripley, "The Compound of Alchemy," 1471]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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9
11
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