Whelps are Puppies
A lot of people use the word whelp informally in the sense of “a raised place on the skin.”
On the left side [of my face] … I had over 20 whelps (not bumps), and they were red and hot.
Recently my 12 year old daughter has been breaking out in large whelps.
I have red whelps on my arm my side and down my legs
Both the OED and Merriam-Webster acknowledge the dialect use of “whelp” to mean “welt,” but seeing the nonstandard use in a formal context is jarring, as in this example from a news item written by a reporter for a state daily:
[the husband] grabbed a broom and hit her on the back, leaving a large red whelp…
whelp: 1. The young of the dog. Now little used, superseded by puppy.
welt: a raised area, ridge, or seam on the body surface (as from scarring or a blow)
The word welt originated as a shoemaking term for a rolled over strip of leather. The meaning “ridge on the skin from a wound” is first recorded 1800.
Whelp can also be used as a verb, either transitively or intransitively:
Red Girl whelped a litter of seven puppies.
Three of the fox hounds whelped on the same day.
Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips and get a free eBook!
- Our weekly newsletter is free (one email per week, on Tuesdays)
- You will improve your English, guaranteed.
- Get our "100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid" eBook free.