Nearby words

  1. whisperous,
  2. whisperously,
  3. whispery,
  4. whist,
  5. whist drive,
  6. whistle dixie,
  7. whistle for,
  8. whistle in the dark,
  9. whistle pig,
  10. whistle stop


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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for whistle in the dark


/ (ˈwɪsəl) /



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

Word Origin and History for whistle in the dark
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with whistle in the dark

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

also see:

  • 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.