verb (used without object), whis·tled, whis·tling.
verb (used with object), whis·tled, whis·tling.
- 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.
Origin of whistle
- to inform (on)
- to bring a stop (to)
Word Origin for whistle
"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.
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.
whistle in the dark
Summon up courage in a frightening situation, make a show of bravery. For example, They knew they were lost and were just whistling in the dark. This expression alludes to a literal attempt to keep up one's courage. [First half of 1900s]
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