oxford views updated May 18 2018
whale·bone / ˈ(h)wālˌbōn/ •
n. an elastic horny substance that grows in a series of thin parallel plates in the upper jaw of some whales and is used by them to strain plankton from the seawater. Also called baleen. ∎ strips of this substance, much used formerly as stays in corsets and dresses: [as adj.] a whalebone bodice. ∎ bone or ivory from a whale or walrus.
oxford views updated Jun 08 2018
Transverse horny plates hanging down from the upper jaw on each side of the mouth of the toothless whales (see Cetacea
), forming a sieve. Water, containing plankton on which the whale feeds, enters the open mouth and is then expelled with the mouth slightly closed, so that food is retained on the baleen plates.