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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English whelp, from Old English hwelp, from Proto-West Germanic *hwelp, from Proto-Germanic *hwelpaz (compare Dutch welp, German Welpe, Norwegian Nynorsk kvelp), from pre-Germanic *kʷelbos.



whelp (plural whelps)

  1. A young offspring of a canid (ursid, felid, pinniped), especially of a dog or a wolf, the young of a bear or similar mammal (lion, tiger, seal); a pup, wolf cub.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.11:
      [] And fared like a furious wyld Beare, / Whose whelpes are ſtolne away, ſhe being otherwhere.
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii], page 4:
      Pro. [] Then was this Iſland / (Saue for the Son, that he[sic] did littour heere, / A frekelld whelpe, hag-borne) not honour'd with / A humane ſhape.
  2. (derogatory) An insolent youth; a mere child.
    • July 13, 1713, Joseph Addison, The Guardian
      That awkward whelp with his money bags would have made his entrance.
  3. (obsolete) A kind of ship.
  4. One of several wooden strips to prevent wear on a windlass on a clipper-era ship.
  5. A tooth on a sprocket wheel (compare sprocket and cog).
Derived terms[edit]
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English whelpen, from Old English hwelpian, derived from hwelp.


whelp (third-person singular simple present whelps, present participle whelping, simple past and past participle whelped)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, of she-dog, she-wolf, vixen, etc.) To give birth.
    The bitch whelped.
    The she-wolf whelped a large litter of cubs.

Etymology 3[edit]

Variant of welp.



  1. Alternative form of welp (well)

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English hwelp, from Proto-Germanic *hwelpaz.



whelp (plural whelpes)

  1. A whelp (a puppy or a baby dog)
  2. A whelp (the young of other animals, especially canids and felids)
  3. A whelp (as an insulting term)
  4. (rare) An unknown kind of mechanical machine or system.

Related terms[edit]


  • English: whelp
  • Scots: whalp, whaulp