whistle

noun, often attributive
whis·​tle | \ ˈ(h)wi-səl How to pronounce whistle (audio) \

Definition of whistle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
2a : 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

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

Definition of whistle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : 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
2a : 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

1a : 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
whistle in the dark
: to keep up one's courage by or as if by whistling

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Other Words from whistle

Verb

whistleable \ ˈ(h)wi-​sə-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce whistleable (audio) \ adjective

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Maybe time will help restore their credibility, particularly when more whistle-blowers surface to bring down more offenders. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Opinion: In typical Mets fashion, Carlos Beltran's ousting was completely bungled," 16 Jan. 2020 While some have painted him as a hero alongside whistle-blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, Lazar has routinely rejected these characterizations, saying that was merely acting on self-preservation rather than a desire to expose secrets. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "The Storming of Area 51: A Covert Journey to the Heart of America’s Worst-Kept Secret," 13 Jan. 2020 Trump can yell about executive privilege or classified information, but whistle-blowers face this dilemma all the time, with more bravery than Bolton has shown. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "What Does John Bolton Want?," 7 Jan. 2020 Using testimony and photographs from missionaries and whistle-blowers, the British journalist Edmund Dene Morel turned Leopold’s slave-labor system into an international scandal. Adam Hochschild, The Atlantic, "The Fight to Decolonize the Museum," 15 Dec. 2019 The final whistle blew and Napoli's fate was confirmed. SI.com, "Napoli 2-4 Lazio: The 90 Minute Champions League Shootout That Had it All," 6 Nov. 2019 His ability to bend and willingness to finish to the whistle separate him from his peers. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Meet the 2019 Courier Journal All-State football first-team offense," 19 Dec. 2019 On Monday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives tried, but failed, to require public testimony from the anonymous whistle blower who set the Ukraine scandal in motion. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Before losing election, Clawson mayor sought secret deal to hurt opponent," 10 Dec. 2019 Holland also attached two photos with his whistle-blower complaint, both from the prison's Buckley unit dated Nov. 19 and Nov. 27. Andrew Howard, azcentral, "Whistleblower: Workers at Arizona prison are falsely claiming to have fixed broken locks," 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The force of the contact knocked Theis back into Walker and the officials whistled Bledsoe for a foul and sent Walker – not Theis – to the line for three shots. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 128, Celtics 123: Too close for comfort after most of a 27-point leads slipped away," 16 Jan. 2020 Thousands of opposition supporters, many of them from the impoverished Kibera district, carrying twigs, whistling and blowing horns, surged toward the city early Tuesday. Dallas News, "Trump ally, Dallas businessman Tommy Hicks Jr. explores buying conservative TV channel to compete with Fox News," 13 Jan. 2020 Too bad the Saints blew his would-be conversion on a fake punt in the third quarter, whistled dead by a Josh Hill false start. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Vikings deal Saints another playoff heartbreak with overtime win," 6 Jan. 2020 Too bad the Saints blew his would-be conversion on a fake punt in the third quarter, whistled dead by a Josh Hill false start. Jarrett Bell, azcentral, "Vikings down Saints in OT to advance in NFL playoffs," 5 Jan. 2020 Chara had a prime scoring chance in the first, but whistled his shot wide left from the slot — his only shot attempt in the first two periods. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Patrice Bergeron scores a pair, gets Bruins past Sabres," 27 Dec. 2019 Winds are projected to increase a bit, whistling up to 20 mph. Alejandro Serrano, SFChronicle.com, "‘Patchy’ fog wafts over Bay Area — but a rare bit of sunny skies coming," 19 Dec. 2019 Even the government, which is not always seen as a friend to whistle-blowers or to investigative journalists, seems to agree. The Economist, "Australia’s government plans to water down ferocious libel laws," 12 Dec. 2019 Joybubbles also had absolute pitch, and could whistle these tones into the phone to fool the computer into thinking the money had been paid for the call. Wired, "Opinion: Blocking the Disabled on the Web Means Blocking Innovation," 21 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whistle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of whistle

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

History and Etymology for whistle

Noun

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

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Time Traveler for whistle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for whistle

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whistle.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whistle. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for whistle

whistle

noun
How to pronounce whistle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of whistle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small device that makes a very high and loud sound when a person blows air through it
: a device through which air or steam is forced to produce a very high and loud sound
: a high and loud sound made by forcing air through your lips or teeth

whistle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of whistle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a high sound by blowing air through your lips or teeth
: to produce a high and loud sound by forcing air or steam through a device
: to move, pass, or go very fast with a high sound

whistle

noun
whis·​tle | \ ˈhwi-səl How to pronounce whistle (audio) , ˈwi- \

Kids Definition of whistle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device by which a loud high-pitched sound is produced
2 : a high-pitched sound (as that made by forcing the breath through puckered lips)

whistle

verb
whistled; whistling

Kids Definition of whistle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make a high-pitched sound by forcing the breath through the teeth or lips
2 : to move, pass, or go with a high-pitched sound The arrow whistled past.
3 : to produce a high-pitched sound by forcing air or steam through a device The kettle whistled.
4 : to express by whistling I whistled my surprise.

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More from Merriam-Webster on whistle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whistle

Spanish Central: Translation of whistle

Nglish: Translation of whistle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whistle for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whistle

Comments on whistle

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