whistle

1 of 2

noun

whis·​tle ˈ(h)wi-səl How to pronounce whistle (audio)
often attributive
1
a
: a small wind instrument in which sound is produced by the forcible passage of breath through a slit in a short tube
a police whistle
b
: a device through which air or steam is forced into a cavity or against a thin edge to produce a loud sound
a factory whistle
2
a
: a shrill clear sound produced by forcing breath out or air in through the puckered lips
b
: the sound produced by a whistle
c
: a signal given by or as if by whistling
3
: a sound that resembles a whistle
especially : a shrill clear note of or as if of a bird

whistle

2 of 2

verb

whistled; whistling ˈ(h)wi-s(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce whistle (audio)

intransitive verb

1
a
: to utter a shrill clear sound by blowing or drawing air through the puckered lips
b
: to utter a shrill note or call resembling a whistle
c
: to make a shrill clear sound especially by rapid movement
the wind whistled
d
: to blow or sound a whistle
2
a
: to give a signal or issue an order or summons by or as if by whistling
b
: to make a demand without result
he did a sloppy job, so he can whistle for his money

transitive verb

1
a
: to send, bring, signal, or call by or as if by whistling
b
: to charge (someone, such as a basketball or hockey player) with an infraction
2
: to produce, utter, or express by whistling
whistle a tune
whistleable adjective
Phrases
whistle in the dark
: to keep up one's courage by or as if by whistling

Examples of whistle in a Sentence

Noun The policeman blew his whistle. We could hear the train's whistle. We could hear the low whistle of the wind through the trees. the whistle of the tea kettle Verb He was whistling as he walked down the street. He whistled for a cab. He whistled a happy tune. The teakettle started to whistle. A bullet whistled past him. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Screaming train whistles punctuate life in Gallup, as milelong trains barrel along one of America’s busiest freight routes. USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2024 And that was a long show with a lot of complicated parts, blowing on little whistle rings, shaking sheets of metal, running over and playing a marimba part, and then going back and playing guitar and singing. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 19 Feb. 2024 Officials advise bringing whistles, air horns or walking sticks as a precaution. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 The drake has a faint whistle and can quack quietly. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, 15 Feb. 2024 Take, for example, the grief that followed the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor who blew the whistle in the early days of the pandemic. Li Yuan, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 When the whistle got blown, and my first instinct was to look up at the shot clock. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer, 13 Feb. 2024 Safety equipment is also important, KOA notes, including a flashlight, a whistle, a first-aid kit and a knife or multi-purpose tool. Mary Ramsey, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 Nichols, in addition to singing high harmonies, contributed a signature whistle — with shades of ’60s Sergio Leone western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Tom Roland, Billboard, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
San Diego’s best chance came 14 minutes into the match when Oceanside was whistled for a foul within the penalty box. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Feb. 2024 The Los Angeles Times reported Barnes engaged Harvard-Westlake student announcer Jake Lancer during the school’s live stream broadcast after one of his sons was whistled for a technical foul. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 As acacia ants have dwindled, elephants have been able to knock down and eat more whistling thorn trees. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 He was also whistled for flagrant-1 foul in the first half and a technical in the second for hanging on the rim after a dunk. Gary B. Graves, USA TODAY, 21 Jan. 2024 The first, a contested dunk in which the crowd let officials have it after not whistling the foul; the second, a triple from the corner that grazed the iron. Ryan Black, The Courier-Journal, 20 Jan. 2024 Video posted to social media showed Barnes approaching Lancer after his son, who plays for Crespi, was whistled for a technical foul. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 6 Feb. 2024 For example, endangered black rhinos eat whistling thorn trees but could lose their food source, study co-author Corinna Riginos said. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 The hot-eyed men whistling the streets: Hello, habibti. Hala Alyan, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whistle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Old English hwistle; akin to Old Norse hvīsla to whisper

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of whistle was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near whistle

Cite this Entry

“Whistle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whistle. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

whistle

1 of 2 noun
whis·​tle ˈhwis-əl How to pronounce whistle (audio)
ˈwis-
1
: a device making a shrill sound
tin whistle
steam whistle
2
a
: a shrill clear sound made by forcing air through puckered lips
b
: a sound or signal produced by a whistle or as if by whistling

whistle

2 of 2 verb
whistled; whistling ˈhwis-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce whistle (audio)
ˈwis-
1
: to make a whistle through puckered lips
2
: to move, pass, or go with a shrill sound
an arrow whistled by me
3
: to blow or sound a whistle
the teakettle whistled
4
: to utter by whistling
whistle a tune
whistler
ˈhwis-(ə-)lər
ˈwis-
noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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