whis·​tle·​blow·​er ˈ(h)wi-səl-ˌblō-ər How to pronounce whistleblower (audio)
variants or whistle-blower
plural whistleblowers or whistle-blowers
: one who reveals something covert or who informs against another
especially : an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or by other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency

Note: A whistleblower is commonly protected legally from retaliation.

I think whistleblowers play a hugely important role in countering the worst corporate and government excesses. Damon Poeter
… pledges to protect whistle-blowers who fear reprisals for their efforts. Wall Street Journal
Congress also added significant new protection for whistleblowers. The 1986 act provides remedies including reinstatement, back-pay with interest, and, as appropriate, punitive damages for whistleblowers who are discharged, demoted, or discriminated against due to involvement with a False Claims disclosure. Bradford A. Penney
whistleblowing adjective
or whistle-blowing
a whistleblowing report
Many states have already enacted laws that protect whistle-blowing employees from retaliation. Greg Critser
whistleblowing noun
or whistle-blowing
… a National Security Agency agent who got in trouble for whistle-blowing. Renée Camus

Examples of whistleblower in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is forcefully instructing federal agencies and employees that NDAs do not supersede whistleblower rights. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, 12 Apr. 2024 It’s supposed to be used to spy on foreigners—NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made sure the world knew about that use case—but White House privacy advisers made clear at the time that Americans’ communications are also often scooped up. David Meyer, Fortune, 11 Apr. 2024 The New York Times was first to report the whistleblower complaint. Gregory Wallace, CNN, 10 Apr. 2024 There are new warnings about Boeing 787 jets A new Boeing whistleblower has come forward alleging production quality issues with the 787, the planemaker’s popular carbon fiber widebody jet. USA TODAY, 10 Apr. 2024 Mark Zaid, a whistleblower attorney with a security clearance who represents many of the victims, said there's little doubt in his mind that Russia is involved and that the latest reporting should move the needle. Anne Flaherty, ABC News, 1 Apr. 2024 Investigating Whistleblower’s Termination The Attorney General’s request to examine also asks for documents related to the termination of whistleblower Joshua Dean. Marisa Garcia, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 John was in the midst of a deposition in his whistleblower retaliation case, which finally was nearing the end. Lucas Ropek / Gizmodo, Quartz, 13 Mar. 2024 Beutner said there is concern that whistleblowers could become targets for retaliation. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1906, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of whistleblower was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near whistleblower

Cite this Entry

“Whistleblower.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whistleblower. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


: an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation compare qui tam action
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