Any of several baleen whales of the family Balaenopteridae having longitudinal grooves on the throat and a small, pointed dorsal fin, and including the blue whale and the humpback whale.
[French, from Norwegian rørhval, from Old Norse reydharhvalr : reydhr, rorqual (from raudhr, red; see reudh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + hvalr, whale.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.