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 Efforts to broaden protections for children online gained momentum after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen disclosed internal research in 2021 showing that the company’s platforms at times worsened body image issues among some teenage girls. Cristiano Lima-Strong, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Just recently in the ongoing whistleblower lawsuit, Mr. Paxton dropped all pretense of innocence. Harrison Mantas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 Herstein filed suit as a whistleblower asking to get his job back. Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald, 11 Feb. 2024 For two more years, whistleblowers kept crying foul, and French assessments kept implying fraud. Michael McCaul, National Review, 7 Feb. 2024 Wednesday’s hearing is just the latest instance of tech leaders appearing on Capitol Hill to defend their approach to protecting young users since Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen brought the issue to the forefront of lawmakers’ minds in late 2021. Brian Fung, CNN, 29 Jan. 2024 Custer County shooting named in Boise lawsuit The Custer County shooting first caught the attention of Statesman reporters in 2022, when it was referenced in a whistleblower lawsuit about the Boise Police Department. Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman, 28 Jan. 2024 The whistleblower complaints came from about a dozen school employees. Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel, 9 Jan. 2024 Debra Katz is a whistleblower and civil rights attorney and a founding partner of Katz Banks Kumin. Debra Katz, The Mercury News, 25 Jan. 2024 See More

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 24 Feb. 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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