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[hwey-ling, wey-] /ˈʰweɪ lɪŋ, ˈweɪ-/
the work or industry of capturing and rendering whales; whale fishing.
Origin of whaling
1680-90; whale1 + -ing1
Related forms
antiwhaling, adjective
nonwhaling, adjective


[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
noun, plural whales (especially collectively) whale.
any of the larger marine mammals of the order Cetacea, especially as distinguished from the smaller dolphins and porpoises, having a fishlike body, forelimbs modified into flippers, and a head that is horizontally flattened.
Informal. something big, great, or fine of its kind:
I had a whale of a time in Europe.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cetus.
verb (used without object), whaled, whaling.
to engage in whaling or whale fishing.
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwæl; cognate with German Wal- in Walfisch, Old Norse hvalr; perhaps akin to Latin squalus kind of fish
Can be confused
wail, whale.


[hweyl, weyl] /ʰweɪl, weɪl/
verb, whaled, whaling
to hit, thrash, or beat soundly.
1780-90; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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British Dictionary definitions for whaling


the work or industry of hunting and processing whales for food, oil, etc
(informal) (intensifier): a whaling good time


noun (pl) whales, whale
any of the larger cetacean mammals, excluding dolphins, porpoises, and narwhals. They have flippers, a streamlined body, and a horizontally flattened tail and breathe through a blowhole on the top of the head related adjective cetacean
any cetacean mammal See also toothed whale, whalebone whale
(slang) a gambler who has the capacity to win and lose large sums of money in a casino
(informal) a whale of a, an exceptionally large, fine, etc, example of a (person or thing): we had a whale of a time on holiday
Word Origin
Old English hwæl; related to Old Saxon, Old High German hwal, Old Norse hvalr, Latin squalus seapig


(transitive) to beat or thrash soundly
Word Origin
C18: variant of wale1
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 whaling



Old English hwæl, from Proto-Germanic *khwalaz (cf. Old Saxon hwal, Old Norse hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swedish val, Middle Dutch wal, walvisc, Dutch walvis, Old High German wal, German Wal); probably cognate with Latin squalus "a kind of large sea fish." Phrase whale of a "excellent or large example" is c.1900, student slang.


"beat, whip severely," 1790, possibly a variant of wale (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for whaling



: By passing his vocal sounds through an amplifier with the aid of a wah-wah pedal, he has achieved spectacular effects/ Mike McCready's wahwah pedaling?


  1. A pronounced wavering, scooping sound from an instrument, the voice, etc: imitations of animal sounds such as wah-wahs on trumpets and trombones/ Then Wah-Wah Waddy breaks into his est funkadeli solo (1920s+ Musicians)
  2. pedal-operated electronic device for producing wah-wahs, esp on electric guitars: the same kind of highly-perfected control over use of the wah-wah, distortion, and amplifier

[echoic; interestingly similar to Chinook jargon wawa, ''speech, talk,'' and to Cree wawa, an echoic name for the snow goose, Canada goose, and gray goose]

whale of a

noun phrase

An excellent or large example; a very superior specimen: That woman is a whale of a politician

[1900+ Students; fr the prodigious size of the whale]

whack out

verb phrase

To lose all one's money; go broke, tap out (1950s+ Gambling)


Related Terms


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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whaling in the Bible

The Hebrew word _tan_ (plural, tannin) is so rendered in Job 7:12 (A.V.; but R.V., "sea-monster"). It is rendered by "dragons" in Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13; Jer. 51:34; Ps. 74:13 (marg., "whales;" and marg. of R.V., "sea-monsters"); Isa. 27:1; and "serpent" in Ex. 7:9 (R.V. marg., "any large reptile," and so in ver. 10, 12). The words of Job (7:12), uttered in bitter irony, where he asks, "Am I a sea or a whale?" simply mean, "Have I a wild, untamable nature, like the waves of the sea, which must be confined and held within bounds, that they cannot pass?" "The serpent of the sea, which was but the wild, stormy sea itself, wound itself around the land, and threatened to swallow it up...Job inquires if he must be watched and plagued like this monster, lest he throw the world into disorder" (Davidson's Job). The whale tribe are included under the general Hebrew name _tannin_ (Gen. 1:21; Lam. 4:3). "Even the sea-monsters [tanninim] draw out the breast." The whale brings forth its young alive, and suckles them. It is to be noticed of the story of Jonah's being "three days and three nights in the whale's belly," as recorded in Matt. 12:40, that here the Gr. ketos means properly any kind of sea-monster of the shark or the whale tribe, and that in the book of Jonah (1:17) it is only said that "a great fish" was prepared to swallow Jonah. This fish may have been, therefore, some great shark. The white shark is known to frequent the Mediterranean Sea, and is sometimes found 30 feet in length.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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