From Middle English whelke, a variant of Middle English welke, from Old English weoloc, wiloc, wioloc, weluc, from Proto-Germanic *welukaz (“snail”) (compare Middle Dutch willoc, Dutch wulk), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *wel- (“to turn, revolve”) (whence vulva and volute) Spelling wh- from 15th century.
whelk (plural whelks)
- Certain edible sea snails, especially, any one of numerous species of large marine gastropods belonging to Buccinidae, much used as food in Europe.
- A stripe or mark; a ridge; a wale.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)