Word Origin & History
O.E. hwæl, from P.Gmc. *khwalaz (cf. O.S. hwal, O.N. hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swed. val, M.Du. wal, walvisc, Du. walvis, O.H.G. wal, Ger. Wal); probably cognate with L. 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