Although a number of whelks are relatively large and are in the family Buccinidae (the true whelks), the word whelk is also applied to some other marine gastropod mollusc species within several families of sea snails that are not very closely related.
The common name "whelk" is also spelled welk or even wilks. The word originated from the Proto-Germanic root "weluka", which may come from the Proto-Indo-European root "wel-", meaning to turn or revolve. 
The species, genera and families referred to by this common name vary a great deal from one geographic area to another.
British Isles, Belgium, Netherlands
In the English-speaking islands of the West Indies, the word whelks or wilks (this word is both singular and plural) is applied to a large edible top shell, Cittarium pica, also known as the magpie or West Indian top shell, family Trochidae.
In Japan, whelks are frequently used in sashimi and sushi. In Vietnam, they are served in a dish called Bún ốc - vermicelli with sea snails.
Australia, New Zealand
Some common examples
- Common whelk
- Speckled whelk
- Lightning whelk
- Knobbed whelk, the state shell of Georgia and New Jersey
- Channeled whelk
- "Wrinkled whelk", a common name for both Neptunea lyrata and Nucella lamellosa
- "Triton whelk", an Australian common name for Charonia species
|Look up whelk in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Conch, another common name used for a wide variety of large sea snails or their shells
- "whelk"  in the Online Etymological Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2001
- Multilingual Dictionary of Fish and Fish Products, prepared by the OECD, Paris, second edition, 1978