Student Dictionary

One entry found for porpoise.
Main Entry: por·poise
Pronunciation: primarystresspodotr-pschwas
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English porpoys "porpoise," from early French porpeis (same meaning), from Latin porcopiscis, literally, "pig fish," from porcus "pig" and piscis "fish"; originally in Latin called porcus marinus, literally, "pig of the sea" --related to PORCUPINE, PORK
1 : any of several small toothed whales with blunt rounded snouts that live and travel in groups
2 : DOLPHIN 1a
Word History The small whale we call a porpoise is a swift and graceful swimmer. However, both its name and pork, the English word for the meat of hogs, can be traced back to Latin porcus, meaning "pig." The porpoise's rounded face must have reminded the ancient Romans of a pig's snout. They named the animal porcus marinus, meaning "pig of the sea." In the Middle Ages this became porcopiscus, from Latin porcus "pig" and piscis "fish." In early French the word was borrowed as porpeis. It is from the French that we derived our English word porpoise.
[porpoise illustration]

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