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whistle

[hwis-uh l, wis-] /ˈʰwɪs əl, ˈwɪs-/
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,
  1. to bring a stop to; halt:
    Congress has blown the whistle on all unnecessary expenditures for the program.
  2. 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
950
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.
Related forms
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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Examples from the web for whistle
  • Yes--another reason not to go over is that there is less of chance they will immediately identify me as the whistle blower.
  • The short riffs begin with a low frequency note complex and almost all end with a high-frequency whistle.
  • It is always those whose misdeeds are revealed that scream for the prosecution of whistle blowers.
  • Independent whistle blowing channels are a recognized principle of good corporate governance.
  • Depending on the species, marine mammals click and whistle at frequencies far higher than humans can detect.
  • And finally, think about the poor students who blew the whistle.
  • When the whistle blows the coach throws the ball high and the first centre who catches it can throw it to any of her teammates.
  • Flight whistle highly geographically variable, given in flight and while perched.
  • The frequency rises to a high whistle as he shoots by, then drops suddenly.
  • There is no one group that organizes the parade, no whistle blown to announce its start.
British Dictionary definitions for whistle

whistle

/ˈwɪsəl/
verb
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.
(transitive) 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.
(intransitive) 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
noun
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.
(usually foll by on) (informal) blow the whistle
  1. to inform (on)
  2. to bring a stop (to)
Word Origin
Old English hwistlian; related to Old Norse hvīsla
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whistle
v.

Old English hwistlian, from Proto-Germanic *khwis-, of imitative origin. Used also in Middle English of the hissing of serpents. Related: Whistled; whistling. To whistle for (with small prospect of getting) is probably from nautical whistling for a wind. To whistle "Dixie" is from 1940.

n.

"tubular musical instrument," Old English hwistle (see whistle (v.)). 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. 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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Slang definitions & phrases for whistle

whistle

verb

To move very rapidly, as if with a whistling sound; barrel: Two bills whistled through the Montana legislature (1813+)

Related Terms

bells and whistles, blow the whistle, doodad, not just whistling dixie, wet one's whistle, whistle dixie, wolf whistle


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with whistle
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for whistle

short flute having a stopped lower end and a flue that directs the player's breath from the mouth hole at the upper end against the edge of a hole cut in the whistle wall, causing the enclosed air to vibrate. Most forms have no finger holes and sound only one pitch. It was made originally from bird bones, and it is considered by many scholars to be the oldest flute type known. It is mainly used for signaling, though it can be heard in folk ensembles and in contemporary music.

Learn more about whistle with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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