right whale

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From right + whale.
The originally intended sense of right is unknown. Folk etymology states that, for various reasons, they were the "right" whales to hunt.


right whale (plural right whales)

  1. Any of certain baleen whales of the family Balaenidae, in the genera Eubalaena (three species) and Balaena (one species, the bowhead whale, also called the Greenland right whale). [from 18th c.]
    • 2018, Chelsea Murray, The Guardian, 20 June:
      The previous night, they’d received a call from the federal Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO): a right whale was tangled up in crab trap lines near their location.


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