Wet one's whistle

whistle

[hwis-uhl, wis-]
verb (used without object), whistled, whistling.
1.
to make a clear musical sound, a series of such sounds, or a high-pitched, warbling sound by the forcible expulsion of the breath through a small opening formed by contracting the lips, or through the teeth, with the aid of the tongue.
2.
to make such a sound or series of sounds otherwise, as by blowing on some device.
3.
to emit similar sounds from the mouth, as birds do.
4.
(of a device) to produce a similar sound when actuated by steam or the like: This teakettle whistles when it boils.
5.
to move, go, pass, etc., with a whistling or whizzing sound, as a bullet or the wind.
verb (used with object), whistled, whistling.
6.
to produce by whistling: to whistle a tune.
7.
to call, direct, or signal by or as by whistling: He whistled his dog over.
8.
to send with a whistling or whizzing sound.
noun
9.
an instrument for producing whistling sounds by means of the breath, steam, etc., as a small wooden or tin tube, a pipe, or a similar device with an air chamber containing a small ball that oscillates when air is forced through an opening, producing a high-pitched, warbling tone.
10.
a sound produced by whistling: a prolonged whistle of astonishment.
11.
a simple fipple flute.
Verb phrases
12.
whistle for, to demand or expect without success: After promising to pay, he told us we could whistle for our money.
Idioms
13.
blow the whistle, to expose the existence of mischief or wrongdoing: The agent was taking bribes until someone finally blew the whistle.
14.
blow the whistle on,
a.
to bring a stop to; halt: Congress has blown the whistle on all unnecessary expenditures for the program.
b.
to expose (wrongdoing or wrongdoers): to blow the whistle on corruption in high places.
15.
wet one's whistle, Informal. to take a drink.
16.
whistle in the dark, to attempt to summon up one's courage or optimism in a difficult situation: He says his business will improve next year, but he's probably just whistling in the dark.

Origin:
before 950; (v.) Middle English whistlen, Old English hwistlian; akin to Old Norse hvīsla to whistle, hviskra to whisper; see whine; (noun) Middle English; Old English hwistle instrument, akin to the v.

whistleable, adjective
interwhistle, verb (used with object), interwhistled, interwhistling.
unwhistled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
whistle (ˈwɪsəl)
 
vb
1.  to produce (shrill or flutelike musical sounds), as by passing breath through a narrow constriction most easily formed by the pursed lips: he whistled a melody
2.  (tr) to signal, summon, or command by whistling or blowing a whistle: the referee whistled the end of the game
3.  (of a kettle, train, etc) to produce (a shrill sound) caused by the emission of steam through a small aperture
4.  (intr) to move with a whistling sound caused by rapid passage through the air
5.  (of animals, esp birds) to emit (a shrill sound) resembling human whistling
6.  whistle in the dark to try to keep up one's confidence in spite of fear
 
n
7.  a device for making a shrill high-pitched sound by means of air or steam under pressure
8.  a shrill sound effected by whistling
9.  a whistling sound, as of a bird, bullet, the wind, etc
10.  a signal, warning, command, etc, transmitted by or as if by a whistle
11.  the act of whistling
12.  music any pipe that is blown down its end and produces sounds on the principle of a flue pipe, usually having as a mouthpiece a fipple cut in the side
13.  informal wet one's whistle to take an alcoholic drink
14.  informal (usually foll by on) blow the whistle
 a.  to inform (on)
 b.  to bring a stop (to)
 
[Old English hwistlian; related to Old Norse hvīsla]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

whistle
O.E. hwistlian, from P.Gmc. *khwis-, of imitative origin. Used also in M.E. of the hissing of serpents. The noun meaning "tubular musical instrument" is from O.E. hwistle. To wet one's whistle "take a drink" (late 14c.) originally may have referred to pipes, or be an allusion to the throat as a sort
of pipe. To whistle for (with small prospect of getting) is probably from nautical whistling for a wind. Figurative use of whistle-blower first attested 1970. To whistle "Dixie" is from 1940. Phrase clean as a whistle is recorded from 1878; railroad whistle stop (at which trains stop only if the engineer hears a signal from the station) is recorded from 1934.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

wet one's whistle

Have a drink, as in I'm just going to wet my whistle before I go out on the tennis court. This expression uses whistle in the sense of "mouth" and may allude to the fact that it is very hard to whistle with dry lips. [Late 1300s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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