When my first novel, whistling in the Dark, was declared a breakout hit and New York Times bestseller, I was utterly bowled over.
“But whew,” he says, making a whistling sound and sweeping his hand over his head.
These coping strategies and this hopefulness seem to me to be a lot of whistling in the dark.
Then they were driving north again, with a studied nonchalance that stopped just short of looking at the sky and whistling.
I knew every volume by its colour and examined them all, passing slowly around the library and whistling to keep up my spirits.
They describe it as sitting on its hind-legs, and whistling, so that Wilfrid thinks it must be a marmot.
I hear their groans as they strain, and the whistling of their breath.
They found him, with very bright eyes, whistling between his teeth.
He was whistling a tune in a wheezy way, and keeping step to it grandly.
There was time now to wonder what had become of him, but no amount of whistling brought him.
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.
"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.