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The Canine in Conversation
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a dog with three whelps or pups nursing
figure 1  

 

whelp. A more demeaning version of scion, or child of; sometimes it's used as a more polite version of son of a bitch.

In its overview of the race for Democratic party’s New York gubernatorial nomination, the New York Times described Eliot Spitzer’s challenger in the most uncomplimentary way: “Mr. Suozzi is not just an underdog. As far as polls are concerned, he is a whelp in the pack.”reference 1

In a language column about the word “glitz” William Safire, in a generous parenthetical aside, informs us that “whelp is from the Old Icelandic hvelpr, perhaps imitative of the cry of a seal puppy.”reference 2

1. Vitello, Paul. 2006. Suozzi's Run: Bold, Energetic, but Still Stuck around 12%. New York Times, May 21. Accessed Jan 4 2008 from http:// www.nytimes.com/ 2006/ 05/ 21/ nyregion/ 21suozzi.html.

2. Safire, William. 1990. Cosmetological Chartist. New York Times Magazine. Accessed Jan 4, 2008 from http:// query.nytimes.com/ gst/ fullpage.html? res=9C0CE2D 8163DF933 A25755C0A 966958260.

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About the illustration: Literally, a whelp is simply the puppy of… Here are some whelps nursing. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
see also: son of a bitch
cf:
puppy dog; runt
Last updated: March 31, 2008
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