Expressions referring to animals, such as “laugh like a whale”, are generally based on a characteristic pronounced from the animal. Many whales roam the waters of the world. Do they ever laugh, as the phrase suggests? If so, how do they do it? Is a species “laughing”Would have inspired the phrase? We have researched the origins of the expression. But the truth may well be found somewhere else that in the depths of the ocean …
What does “laugh like a whale” mean?
“Laugh like a whale” and its variant “is twist like a whale ”mean to laugh out loud, the mouth wide open and loudly. Both expressions convey the image of a laughing person at throat deployed, by wriggling on itself, which is “screwed up”. The first occurrences of the phrase go back to XIXe century but without its origin being truly established. Perhaps it echoes the earliest accounts of whaling, such as Moby dick, the novel by Herman Melville? One thing is certain: the meaning of the formula is rooted in two theses different. Let’s start with the most obvious, that relating to cetacean.
Why do we say “laugh like a whale”?
The comparison with the marine mammal finds its genesis in the characteristics physical and behavioral of the whale:
- Her big mouth. The phrase “laugh like a whale” refers to the mouth of the largest mammal in the world. Laughing loudly – as the expression implies – a person exposes his dentition in the same way as the cetacean when it feeds. By opening its huge mouth, the whale discovers its many teeth (or baleen) as well as a language that can weigh more than… 2.5 tonnes. Equipped with a monumental mouth, the blue whale can swallow 90 tons water and food in one bite!
- Its sounds. A person who laughs like a whale laughs loudly. We imagine that the laughter of the cetacean – which can weigh up to 170 tons and measure more than 30 meters – would be proportional his size and audible for miles around. Because the whale knows how to show itself noisy when she wants to orient herself in the great depths (echolocation) and communicate with her fellows. At the odontocetes (toothed whales), the sounds produce rapid clusters of clicking and hissing high frequency. On the other hand, only mysticetes (baleen whales) emit low frequency sounds known as singing whales ;
- Its aquatic tendrils. The expression “to twist like a whale” could evoke the contortions carried out by the animal. At the start of the mating season, the males join the breeding sites. reproduction in search of females. When pairs form, cetaceans begin courtship displays consisting of movements miscellaneous: they noisily hit the surface of the sea with their tails, roll over on themselves, jump out of the water and fall heavily, splashing the foaming water on the reefs.
Can a whale laugh?
While some cetaceans like the dolphin seem to sport a to smile unchanging (even when in pain), what about the whale? Is the huge aquatic animal capable of to laugh ? In fact, the researchers humbly admit theignore because this aptitude has never been scientifically demonstrated. Numerous whales inhabit the seas and oceans of the world: blue whale, humpback whale, sei whale, Omura whale… As with the seagull, would the large cetacean family also have a species?laughing”? The answer is no. The only black-fronted whales in the world meet in the bedroom children, in the form of… soft toys!
Laugh like a whale… an umbrella?
A second thesis states that the expression “laughing like a whale” does not refer to the immense mouth of the marine animal. With regard to its variant “se twist like a whale “, the phrase would in fact allude to umbrella, this very practical object which became popular from the 18th centurye century. As a reminder, the fines stems made of metal or plastic that hold the waterproof canvas of the umbrella are called whales. You should know that during the whaling campaigns of the XIXe century, fishermen were not satisfied with recovering the meat, the leather and the fat of the cetacean. Coming from the upper jaw of the whale, the baleen were also coveted. These large blades of soft horn were at the time an ideal material for making any type offrame. This catch is all the more profitable as some species such as the blue whale have between 250 and 320 baleen measuring up to 1 m long. The expression therefore comes from the umbrella which, when opening, deploys its famous whales whose torsion draw a kind of smile. In truth, the origin of the expression “laughing like a whale” remains today a mystery. By explaining two ways different, the phrase therefore invites everyone to choose the hypothesis that suits them!