May 24th, 2018

words are sexy

Thursday word: rorqual

rorqual (RAWR-kwuhl) - n., any of several whales of the family Balaenopteridae.


These are baleen whales, with baleen to filter food from seawater instead of teeth to grab it, and longitudinal folds of skin under their jaw, allowing the mouth to greatly expand and so increase how much water can be thus filtered. Not all baleen whales are rorquals, though: the right whales have baleen but not the groove-like folds. It's these grooves that give them their name: the word was adopted around 1827 from French, which in turn got it from Norwegian rørhval or røyrkval, from Old Norse reyðarhvalr, from reyðr, furrowed (from rauðr, red, by some means no one can explain) + hvalr, whale.

Humpback whale, breaching
Thanks, WikiMedia!

The roquals include the blue, fin, sei, minke, and humpback whales.

---L.