the horny, elastic plates that hang down in fringed, parallel columns from the upper jaw or palate of baleen whales and serve as a strainer that catches plankton while a whale is feeding; whalebone
Origin of baleenMiddle English and Old French baleine from Classical Latin ballaena from Classical Greek phallaina, whale from phallos (see phallus): so named from the shape of the whale
Origin of baleenMiddle English balene from Old French baleine from Latin balaena whale from Greek phallaina, phalaina ; see bhel-2 in Indo-European roots.
(countable and uncountable, plural baleens)
From Old French baleine (“whale, whalebone”), from Latin balaena (“whale”), from Ancient Greek φάλαινα (phalaina, “whale”).