[ hwis-uh l, wis- ]
/ ˈʰwɪs əl, ˈwɪs- /
verb (used without object), whis·tled, whis·tling.
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.
verb (used with object), whis·tled, whis·tling.
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.
a simple fipple flute.
whistle for, to demand or expect without success: After promising to pay, he told us we could whistle for our money.
- 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.
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,
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.
Origin of whistle
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 formswhis·tle·a·ble, adjectivein·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. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for whistle for (1 of 2)
(intr, preposition) informal to seek or expect in vain
British Dictionary definitions for whistle for (2 of 2)
/ (ˈwɪsəl) /
to produce (shrill or flutelike musical sounds), as by passing breath through a narrow constriction most easily formed by the pursed lipshe whistled a melody
(tr) to signal, summon, or command by whistling or blowing a whistlethe 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)
Word Origin for whistle
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
Idioms and Phrases with whistle for (1 of 2)
Ask for or expect without any prospect of success, as in If you want a cash refund, you can just whistle for it. [Mid-1700s]
Idioms and Phrases with whistle for (2 of 2)
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.