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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The harbour porpoise is vulnerable to drowning in fishing nets.
▪ Inshore species, such as the familiar bottle-nosed dolphins, the white-beaked dolphin and the harbour porpoise, rarely strand in large numbers.
▪ Because it inhabits coastal waters in heavily populated and fished areas, the harbour porpoise has suffered greatly in recent years.
▪ Now harbour porpoises face the additional threat of coastal gill-nets.
▪ Dusky dolphins and Burmeister's porpoise are considerably more abundant and wide-ranging than the other three species.
▪ Glancing sideways, he saw Collymore veer off, roll and gracefully arch like a porpoise, and go down again.
▪ He could do little more than watch porpoises and gulls with them.
▪ Near Muckla Skerry there was a bit more action: groups of porpoises were puffing their way along.
▪ Over half the species of toothed whales are dolphins or the closely related porpoises.
▪ Suddenly three round-headed porpoises came bursting out of the nearly vertical wavefront immediately behind us.
▪ The dolphins and porpoises are hunted either with hand harpoons or in drive fisheries.
▪ They got porpoises trained to kill gooks.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Porpoise \Por"poise\, n. [OE. porpeys, OF. porpeis, literally, hog fish, from L. porcus swine + piscis fish. See Pork, and Fish.]

  1. (Zo["o]l.) Any small cetacean of the genus Phoc[ae]na, especially Phoc[ae]na communis, or Phoc[ae]na phoc[ae]na, of Europe, and the closely allied American species ( Phoc[ae]na Americana). The color is dusky or blackish above, paler beneath. They are closely allied to the dolphins, but have a shorter snout. Called also harbor porpoise, herring hag, puffing pig, and snuffer.

  2. (Zo["o]l.) A true dolphin ( Delphinus); -- often so called by sailors.

    Skunk porpoise, or Bay porpoise (Zo["o]l.), a North American porpoise ( Lagenorhynchus acutus), larger than the common species, and with broad stripes of white and yellow on the sides. See Illustration in Appendix.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 14c., porpas, from Old French porpais (12c.) "porpoise," literally "pork fish," from porc "pork" (see pork (n.)) + peis "fish," from Latin piscis "fish" (see fish (n.)).\n

\nThe Old French word probably is a loan-translation of a Germanic word meaning literally "sea-hog, mere-swine," such as Old Norse mar-svin, Old High German meri-swin, Middle Dutch mereswijn "porpoise" (the last of which also was borrowed directly into French and became Modern French marsouin).\n

\nClassical Latin had a similar name, porculus marinus (in Pliny), and the notion behind the name likely is a fancied resemblance of the snout to that of a pig.


n. 1 A small cetacean of the family Phocoenidae, related to whales and dolphins. 2 (context North America imprecisely English) Any small dolphin. vb. (context intransitive English) Said of an aircraft: to make a series of plunges when taking off or landing.


n. any of several small gregarious cetacean mammals having a blunt snout and many teeth


Porpoises are a group of fully aquatic marine mammals that are sometimes referred to as mereswine, all of which are classified under the family Phocoenidae, parvorder Odontoceti (toothed whales). There are six extant species of porpoise. They are small toothed whales that are very closely related to oceanic dolphins. The most obvious visible difference between the two groups is that porpoises have shorter beaks and flattened, spade-shaped teeth distinct from the conical teeth of dolphins. Porpoises, and other cetaceans, belong to the clade Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates, and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged from them about 40 million years ago.

Porpoises range in size from the and vaquita, the smallest cetacean to be discovered, to the and Dall's porpoise. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism in that the females are larger than males. They have streamlined bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers. Dall's porpoise is one of the fastest cetaceans discovered, with the ability to travel at 41 knots. Porpoises have the ability to produce biosonar and it is their primary sensory system. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep them warm in cold water.

Porpoises are not very widespread, with many specialising near the polar regions, usually near the coast. Porpoises feed largely on fish and squid, much like the rest of the odontocetes. Males typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Some porpoises produce a variety of clicks and whistles, which are thought to be primarily for social purposes. A few species, like the harbour porpoise, are highly sociable, but pods generally do not exceed ten individuals for most species.

Porpoises were, and still are, hunted by some countries by means of drive hunting. Some species are attributed with high levels of intelligence. At the 2012 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, support was reiterated for a cetacean bill of rights, listing cetaceans as non-human persons. The vaquita nearly became extinct in the twentieth century, with a predicted population of fewer than 100 individuals, and, since the extinction of the baiji, is considered the most endangered cetacean. Besides drive hunting, they also face threats from bycatch, competition (from humans), and marine pollution. Porpoises are sometimes kept in captivity and trained to perform tricks, but breeding success has been poor.

Porpoise (disambiguation)

Porpoise may refer to:

  • Porpoise, a marine mammal
  • Porpoise (make of scuba gear), a tradename for scuba gear developed by Ted Eldred in Australia
  • Porpoise class submarine, various classes of submarines
  • , various ships of the British Royal Navy

  • , various United States Navy ships

Porpoise (scuba gear)

Porpoise is a tradename for scuba developed by Ted Eldred in Australia and made there from the late 1940s onwards. It included:

Usage examples of "porpoise".

I got a chance, a Joblily came in to say that the Great Panjandrum himself was coming, and soon the queerest little, old, round, fat man came in, puffing like a porpoise, and rolling from side to side as he walked.

Past the shrimper was a neat little boat, sleek of line as a porpoise, not too big, but with five masts in all.

On the news that the Porpoise fleet, composed of six hundred great ships, was in sight of Alca, the bishop ordered a solemn procession.

They were out there every day, setting thirty-mile-long nets to intercept the migrators, and they were getting everything: tuna and billfish, mackerel and wahoos, sharks and bonitos and jacks and porpoises.

All did very well, though Pud was puffing and blowing like a porpoise and sweating like a foundryman when they stopped at the top of the hill for a short rest.

It hesitates not to attack the largest sperm and Greenland whales, and the smaller whales, porpoises and seals will spring out of water and strand themselves on shore in terror at its approach.

Squid and porpoise and eel, shark and barracuda and the trunkback turtle marked her passage.

In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece.

The two porpoises in the water with Steve had functional blowholes and were programmed to emit the same high-pitched, sonarlike cries as do the real animals.

The Killer whale is an exception, preying on seals, sea-lions and some of the smaller cetaceans - porpoises and dolphins, for example.

These are a few of the things used at the banquet: three hundred quarters of wheat, three hundred tuns of ale, one hundred and four tuns of wine, eighty oxen, three thousand geese, two thousand pigs,--four thousand conies, four thousand heronshaws, four thousand venison pasties cold and five hundred hot, four thousand cold tarts, four thousand cold custards, eight seals, four porpoises, and so on.

Anyone listening with hydrophones or studying a sonar scope would be confused, would judge that a school of porpoises had penetrated the cavern and then gone berserk.

To demonstrate she puckered up and whistled a jig that made the mermaids first pat their hands and slap their tails against the rocks, then dive into the sea and frolic like porpoises, who were diving and frolicking a little further out.

It was microminiaturization at its best, and with such manner of packaging, the porpoises became a reality.

So the porpoises were born with their constant-energy source, their marvelous articulation and shape and movement.