Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

porpoise

\PAWR-puhs\ , verb;
1.
to move forward with a rising and falling motion.
2.
(of a speeding motorboat) to leap clear of the water after striking a wave.
3.
(of a torpedo) to appear above the surface of the water.
noun:
1.
any of several small, gregarious cetaceans of the genus Phocoena, usually blackish above and paler beneath, and having a blunt, rounded snout, especially the common porpoise, P. phocoena, of both the North Atlantic and Pacific.
2.
any of several other small cetaceans, as the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis.
Quotes:
Jake disengaged the autopilot—it had a tendency to porpoise the plane when the receiving aircraft pushed in the drogue—and devoted his attention to maintaining a smooth, steady course on the great circle.
-- Stephen Coonts, Flight of the Intruder, 1986
We hit another wave and were thrown up again, and this time we began to porpoise.
-- Tom Casey, Strangers' Gate, 2006
Origin:
Porpoise entered English in the fifteenth century from the Old French porc + peis literally meaning "pork fish." It is thought that this name was given to the marine animal because its snout resembled a pig snout.
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