Definition of whistle in English:

whistle

Syllabification: whis·tle
Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wisəl
 
/

noun

1A clear, high-pitched sound made by forcing breath through a small hole between partly closed lips, or between one’s teeth.
More example sentences
  • As was expected, his special appearance was greeted with whistles and applause that reverberated through the night.
  • The Doc let out a whistle from between his teeth.
  • She was about to explain, when a high-pitched whistle from somewhere in the middle of the soldiers sounded.
1.1A sound similar to a whistle, especially one made by a bird, machine, or the wind.
More example sentences
  • The city itself is a spectacle to behold, with dazzling lights, beeps and whistles, and the sound of change going ‘jingle jangle’ all night long.
  • A cacophony of booms and whistles and bangs plays around us, and we eat popcorn and watch the sky explode.
  • Resident orcas are highly vocal and communicate with a learned repertoire of clicks, whistles and squeals.
1.2A device that produces a whistle by the forced passage of air through a slit in a small tube, especially for giving a signal.
More example sentences
  • The works required four trumpets, three trombones, one tuba, and several percussion instruments including bells & whistles!
  • The music is a unique sound of Irish folk ballads, traditional tunes with vocals accompanied by bazouki, bodhran, harmonicas and whistles.
  • These include harps, lyres, whistles, horns, pan-pipes, bones, psalteries and some form of drum.

verb

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1 [no object] Emit a clear, high-pitched sound by forcing breath through a small hole between one’s lips or teeth: the audience cheered and whistled (as noun whistling) I awoke to their cheerful whistling (as adjective whistling) a whistling noise
More example sentences
  • He whistled through his teeth, a high pitched sound that grated on the human ears.
  • And so, Peter Howard strolled back towards the lower engine compartment, cheerfully whistling under his breath.
  • The Congresswoman is whistling through her teeth.
1.1Express surprise, admiration, or derision by making a whistling sound: Bob whistled. “You look beautiful!” he said
More example sentences
  • The interior lights were down low, but I could still see better than before, and I stopped myself from whistling in surprise.
  • Dan whistled in surprise, quoting a line from ancient poetry.
  • He whistled in admiration and they both got their bags out.
1.2 [with object] Produce (a tune) by whistling.
More example sentences
  • Julius smiled and began whistling an old tune he liked as he walked down one of the many corridors of the colony.
  • Michael Grant simply whistled some tunes from the SFA song book.
  • He whistled an old song he had memorized and stared at the sea.
1.3(Especially of a bird or machine) produce a clear, high-pitched sound: the kettle began to whistle
More example sentences
  • When the kettle began whistling, I turned around to get the hot water for my green tea.
  • The kettle began to whistle, and she broke herself out of her reverie and made two mugs of tea.
  • The train whistled and slowly began its entrance to the London station.
1.4Produce a whistling sound by moving rapidly through the air or a narrow opening: the wind was whistling down the chimney
More example sentences
  • The only sound is the wind whistling through the tall pines.
  • All you could hear was the wind whistling through the stadium
  • I sat there, with the sun beating down on me, the wind whistling in my hair and the sound of a buzzard overhead looking for prey.
1.5Blow an instrument that makes a whistle, especially as a signal: the referee did not whistle for a foul
More example sentences
  • Urs Meier, the Swiss referee, appears to have stopped whistling fouls against either team.
  • Referee Karl Kirkpatrick was the dominant figure in the opening exchanges, whistling 13 penalties in the first half before dishing out four yellow cards in the second.
  • Referee Brian Crowe started as he meant to go on: whistling for even the slightest indiscretion.
1.6 [with object] (whistle someone/something up) Summon something or someone by making a whistling sound.
More example sentences
  • A group of Carlow coursing owners laid a sawdust all-weather straight gallop at Ballinabranna, where the dogs are whistled up, and usually behind a lead dog.
  • Some might think that a reunion can be whistled up but it takes time and careful planning to make it a success.
  • We sell these world wide to hotels who use them for the concierge to whistle up a taxi!
2 (whistle for) Wish for or expect (something) in vain: you can go home and whistle for your wages
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile Ballina is still whistling for funding for a marina at the local Quay.
  • He is, after all, a navy veteran who whistles for his children, a widower withdrawn so deeply into mourning that he flees from the memories that possess his home.
  • You can whistle for your inquiry into the murder of so-called ‘informants’.

Origin

Old English (h)wistlian (verb), (h)wistle (noun), of Germanic origin; imitative and related to Swedish vissla 'to whistle'.

Phrases

blow the whistle on

informal Bring an illicit activity to an end by informing on the person responsible.
More example sentences
  • Bedard had contended she was forced out of her job at Via after trying to blow the whistle on sponsorship-related activities she saw there.
  • Residents on a troubled Lancaster estate are bring urged to blow the whistle on noxious neighbours.
  • An RAAF airman who blew the whistle on that drug activity has claimed he's since been ostracised and his career jeopardised, claims rejected by the RAAF.

(as) clean as a whistle

Extremely clean or clear.
More example sentences
  • The colors are crisp and clear, the picture as clean as a whistle.
  • This property is clean as a whistle and move in ready.
  • I insisted Jon have a CT scan, a calcium scan, and he came up clean as a whistle.
informal Free of incriminating evidence: the cops raided the warehouse but the place was clean as a whistle
More example sentences
  • Testing on samples from the suspicious cow is continuing but all tests done to date show that ‘she was clean as a whistle’, said the veterinarian.
  • ‘[This] is a blow-by-blow fight… in the trenches of bureaucracy,’ cautions Githongo, who is known to be clean as a whistle.
  • Even if you're clean as a whistle, you're guilty by association.

whistle something down the wind

Let something go; abandon something.
More example sentences
  • Don't let the little ones near it unless you can afford to whistle it down the wind.
Turn a trained hawk loose by casting it off with the wind.
More example sentences
  • A falcon born and raised as a hunting bird can be whistled down the wind and return to the wild as if it had been there all its life.

whistle in the dark

Pretend to be unafraid.
More example sentences
  • But if past performance is any indication of Turner's entrepreneurial expertise, they may be whistling in the dark.
  • He was brushed aside as a quaint American naïf whistling in the dark.
  • I'm probably whistling in the dark, but if Martin Cullen is reading this, or any of those people close to him, perhaps around the Cabinet table some day they might throw out the suggestion I am making to Minister Michael McDowell.

whistle in the wind

Try unsuccessfully to influence something that cannot be changed.
More example sentences
  • Bertie may just be whistling in the wind with this one.
  • For years politicians and anti-drugs campaigners have chanted ‘Just Say No’ but they might as well have been whistling in the wind for all the effect this mantra, repeated incessantly, has had.
  • Unless they can come up with a credible political and judicial scenario for the realisation of their objective, I fear that however strident their demands they amount to no more than whistling in the wind or baying at the moon.

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Pronunciation: ˈapəzit
adjective
apt in the circumstances or relation to something