or whin·ey

[ hwahy-nee, wahy- ]
/ ˈʰwaɪ ni, ˈwaɪ- /

adjective, whin·i·er, whin·i·est.

complaining; fretful; cranky: The baby is whiny because he missed his nap.



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Origin of whiny

First recorded in 1850–55; whine + -y1


whin·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does whiny mean?

Whiny is an adjective describing someone who is complaining in an annoying way, especially in a high-pitched tone of voice.

To whine is to moan or make a high-pitched cry, or to say something in such a way. It also means to complain, especially by talking in such a way. Whiny is always used negatively to criticize such behavior. It can be used to describe a person or their words or actions. It is also spelled whiney.

Example: People might help you with your problems if you weren’t so whiny about them.

Where does whiny come from?

The first records of the word whiny come from the 1850s. It is a combination of whine and the suffix y, which is used to turn it into an adjective. Whine is much older and is based on the Old English hwīnan, which is related to the Old Norse hvīna, meaning “to scream.”

But whining is not screaming, and being whiny isn’t the same as throwing a tantrum—it’s much more low-key. When we describe someone as whiny, we usually mean that they’re currently complaining in an annoying way (especially by drawing out their words or speaking in a high-pitched tone), or that they’re constantly complaining (which is also annoying). It’s always negative—there are no good ways to be whiny.

Children are described as whiny when they moan and complain about not getting their way. Of course, adults can be whiny, too. They may be less likely to speak in the whiny way that children sometimes do, but they can be called whiny if they constantly gripe about things (especially if they don’t do anything to try solve their problems).

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What are some other forms related to whiny?

  • whiney (alternate spelling)
  • whinier (adjective, comparative degree)
  • whiniest (adjective, superlative degree)
  • whininess (noun)

What are some synonyms for whiny?

What are some words that share a root or word element with whiny

What are some words that often get used in discussing whiny?


How is whiny used in real life?

Whiny is always used negatively. It is often applied to people who are thought to complain too much.



Try using whiny!

Which of the following words is a synonym for whiny?

A. pouty
B. cheerful
C. calm
D. pleasant

Example sentences from the Web for whiny

British Dictionary definitions for whiny

/ (ˈwaɪnɪ) /

adjective whinier or whiniest

high-pitched and plaintive
peevish; complaining
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