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killer whale

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A killer whales (orcas) jumping

English

Noun

Singular
killer whale

Plural
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killer whale ({{{1}}})
  1. A sea mammal, Orcinus orca, related to dolphins and porpoises.
    • 1851 Of this whale, little is known to the Nantucketer, and nothing at all to the professed naturalist. From what I have seen of him at a distance, I should say that he was about the bigness of a grampus. He is very savage - a sort of Feegee fish. He sometimes takes the great Folio whales by the lip and hangs there like a leech until the mighty brute is worried to death. The killer is never hunted. I have never heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be taken to the name of this whale, on the grounds of its indistinctness. For we are all killers on land and on sea; Bonaparts and sharks included. — Herman Melville: Moby Dick. This ed. 1961 Arnot publishers. p.127.

Usage notes

Some prefer the term orca, finding the term killer whale loaded.

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