from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See whalebone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The plates in the mouth of the baleen whale, Mysticeti, which it uses to trap its food; formerly used in corsetry
  • n. a baleen whale

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Plates or blades of “whalebone,” from two to twelve feet long, and sometimes a foot wide, which in certain whales (Balænoidea) are attached side by side along the upper jaw, and form a fringelike sieve by which the food is retained in the mouth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A whale.
  • n. The sea-bream.
  • n. Whalebone in its natural state: a name given by whale-fishers.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a horny material from the upper jaws of certain whales; used as the ribs of fans or as stays in corsets


Middle English balene, from Old French baleine, from Latin balaena, whale, from Greek phalaina; see bhel-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French baleine ("whale, whalebone"), from Latin balaena ("whale"), from Ancient Greek φάλαινα ("whale"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "There is armour made from whale baleen. Many of the graves also contain flat stones, which presumably have some kind of ceremonial purpose.
    Researchers can also call on human memory and lore, because Nuvuk retained human inhabitants until about 60 years ago."
    - 'Bodies Point To Alaska's Past', Richard Black, BBC website 31 Dec 2007

    January 1, 2008