in some systems of classification, any of an order (Cetacea) of nearly hairless, fishlike water mammals, lacking external hind limbs, but having paddlelike forelimbs, including whales, porpoises, and dolphins
Origin of cetacean; from Modern Latin ; from Classical Latin cetus, large sea animal, whale ; from Classical Greek kētos + -ace(a) + -an
of the cetaceans
Any of various marine mammals of the order Cetacea, including the whales, dolphins, and porpoises, having the general shape of a fish with forelimbs modified to form flippers, a tail with horizontal flukes, and one or two blowholes for breathing.
Origin of cetaceanFrom New Latin Cētācea, order name, from Latin cētus, whale; see Cetus.
- ce·ta′cean, ce·ta′ceous
(comparative more cetacean, superlative most cetacean)
- Pertaining to the zoologic order Cetacea, or associated with species falling under that taxonomic hierarchy.
- The poached blubber was definitely cetacean in origin, but the particular species could not be identified.
- More generally, relating to large aquatic mammals, either directly or by analogy.
- The obese woman, ungainly on land, moved with a kind of cetacean grace in the water.