Why are baby whales called calves?



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    The word “calf” is applied not only to baby cows, but also to the young of other animals, most notably the deer, the elephant, and the whale. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the etymological root of the word “calf,” the old Germanic word “kalbe,” meant any kind of baby animal. Thus, a reference from 1398 has the word calf being applied to deer: “The hind eateth of the herb ‘dragancia’ to be delivered of her calf more easily.”

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