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.
to make such a sound or series of sounds otherwise, as by blowing on some device.
to emit similar sounds from the mouth, as birds do.
(of a device) to produce a similar sound when actuated by steam or the like: This teakettle whistles when it boils.
to move, go, pass, etc., with a whistling or whizzing sound, as a bullet or the wind.
to produce by whistling: to whistle a tune.
to call, direct, or signal by or as by whistling: He whistled his dog over.
to send with a whistling or whizzing sound.
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.
a sound produced by whistling: a prolonged whistle of astonishment.
whistle for, to demand or expect without success: After promising to pay, he told us we could whistle for our money.
Idioms about whistle
blow the whistle, to expose the existence of mischief or wrongdoing: The agent was taking bribes until someone finally blew the whistle.
blow the whistle on,
to bring a stop to; halt: Congress has blown the whistle on all unnecessary expenditures for the program.
to expose (wrongdoing or wrongdoers): to blow the whistle on corruption in high places.
wet one's whistle, Informal. to take a drink.
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.
whistle past the graveyard. See entry at whistle past the graveyard.
- whis·tle·a·ble, adjective
- in·ter·whis·tle, verb (used with object), in·ter·whis·tled, in·ter·whis·tling.
- un·whis·tled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use whistle in a sentence
Root cells release malic acid, which acts like a shepherd’s whistle.Junk Food Is Bad For Plants, Too - Issue 90: Something Green | Anne Biklé & David R. Montgomery | September 23, 2020 | Nautilus
Influencers, who are paid by brands to promote their products to their thousands of followers, generally agree that Reels lacks some of the bells and whistles of TikTok.Instagram’s would-be TikTok killer, Reels, struggles to gain traction | Danielle Abril | September 22, 2020 | Fortune
There’s no whistle, bell, or any other serious notification of when the harmless pre-ejaculate ends and the fluids of fatherhood begin.Does Pre-Confessing Clear You of Sexual Causality? | Eugene Robinson | September 20, 2020 | Ozy
Snarky Alexis may have had a ritzy Rolls-Royce, but today’s Sentra—completely redesigned for 2020—offers a lot more bells and whistles.
Yet offense continued to rule even once the whistles became less frequent.
“Clean as a whistle,” says a senior investigator involved in the case.
But admit it: at the first whistle, we all paid attention, to a part of the world that would usually prefer us all to butt out.
He is on trial along with three others, and Bogucki is blowing the whistle on government practices he says are not fair play.A Navy Lawyer Cries Foul on Gitmo’s Kafkaesque Legal System | Eleanor Clift | September 26, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Not a lot of air tooting that whistle, no matter what the video would lead viewers to believe.
And yep, the flag can be used in dog whistle fashion to signal a position on “those blacks.”
Robert uttered a shrill, piercing whistle which might have been heard back at the wharf.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories | Kate Chopin
Goodell paused in the doorway and emitted a whistle of surprise at sight of a horse in one of the stalls.Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
Then he goes out, gits into his Pullman section, blows his punkin whistle and departs.Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher | Eleanor Gates
He only tore himself from her reluctant arms as the final whistle sounded from the engine.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3) | Charles James Wills
In a lull of the raging earth the distant whistle of the train could be distinctly heard.A Lost Hero | Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and Herbert D. Ward
British Dictionary definitions for whistle
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
(tr) to signal, summon, or command by whistling or blowing a whistle: the referee whistled the end of the game
(of a kettle, train, etc) to produce (a shrill sound) caused by the emission of steam through a small aperture
(intr) to move with a whistling sound caused by rapid passage through the air
(of animals, esp birds) to emit (a shrill sound) resembling human whistling
whistle in the dark to try to keep up one's confidence in spite of fear
a device for making a shrill high-pitched sound by means of air or steam under pressure
a shrill sound effected by whistling
a whistling sound, as of a bird, bullet, the wind, etc
a signal, warning, command, etc, transmitted by or as if by a whistle
the act of whistling
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
wet one's whistle informal to take an alcoholic drink
blow the whistle (usually foll by on) informal
to inform (on)
to bring a stop (to)
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with whistle
In addition to the idioms beginning with whistle
- whistle Dixie
- whistle for
- whistle in the dark
- blow the whistle on
- clean as a whistle
- slick as a whistle
- wet one's whistle
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.