In Reply to: A whale of a chance posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 05, 2009 at 07:48:
: : Please tell me what's the meaning of "A whale of a chance"? I've seen it in "Richard Ellsworth Savage" from "The Big Money" by Dos Passos.
: Because the whale is the largest animal on earth, "a whale of a [thing]" is an idiom meaning "a very big - and usually very good - [thing]". You can have a "whale of a good time", "a whale of a joke", and so on.(VSD)
Very true. But if it's used as a verb, or the gerund "whaling," it's no longer a "good thing." For instance, "After setting the garage on fire, I got the whaling of a lifetime when Dad got home. As I expected, he whaled me good." This usage is a bit old-fashioned, probably obsolescent, so the word is frequently misspelled.