The sperm whale was named after the white, waxy substance found in its head, which was mistaken for its sperm. It’s derived from the Latin word ‘spermaceti’, which means ‘sperm of whale.’
The origin of the sperm whale’s name comes from the milky-white waxy substance that can be found in the animal’s head. This substance highly resembles semen-hence “sperm whale” and is called spermaceti oil.
The name “sperm whale” is a shortening of the name “spermaceti whale.” The sperm whale’s head holds large amounts of a fluid called spermaceti. Whalers used to think that this substance was sperm, but this is not the case. To this day, scientists still do not know what the fluid is.
The name sperm whale is an apocopation of spermaceti whale. Spermaceti is the semi liquid, waxy substance found in the spermaceti organ in front of and above the skull bone and also in the junk, the area below the spermaceti organ just above the jaw. The sperm whale is also known as the “cachalot”, which is thought to derive from the archaic French word for “tooth” or “big teeth”.
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