Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who whiffles, or frequently changes his or her opinion or course.
  • n. One who argues evasively; a trifler.
  • n. One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  • n. An officer who went before a procession to clear the way, by blowing a horn or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.
  • n. The goldeneye.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who whiffles, or frequently changes his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; hence, a trifler.
  • n. One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  • n. An officer who went before procession to clear the way by blowing a horn, or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.
  • n. The golden-eye.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A piper or fifer.
  • n. A herald or usher; a person who leads the way, or prepares the way, for another: probably so called because the pipers (see piper,1) usually led the procession.
  • n. One who whiffles; one who changes frequently his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; a fickle or unsteady person.
  • n. A puffer of tobacco; a whiffer.
  • n. The whistlewing, or goldeneye duck.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

whiffle +‎ -er

Examples

  • (G. B.) {355} The 'whiffler' was the official sword-flourisher of the

    The Romany Rye A Sequel to 'Lavengro'

  • Let LOVE and me talk together a little on this subject — be it a young conscience, or love, or thyself, Jack, thou seest that I am for giving every whiffler audience.

    Clarissa Harlowe

  • Norman arch behind the mayor, — but likewise with Snap, and with whiffler, quart pot, and frying-pan, Billy Blind and

    Lavengro

  • Ernie is a thistle whiffler and he whiffles thistles with a thistle whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • Only time he might have had a go, Ralphy had pinched his whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • They pointed out, angrily, that the function of the whiffler was merely to go through a pantomime of making a clear space for the dance that was to follow.

    Death of a Fool

  • After a bit, Ralphy turned up and gave Ernie his whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • She also saw Ernie come charging offstage without his whiffler and in a roaring rage himself.

    Death of a Fool

  • Stayne returned the whiffler and went on round the wall to the O.P. entrance.

    Death of a Fool

  • “Suppose,” Carey said, “Ernie lost his temper with the old chap, and gave a kind of swipe, or suppose he was just fooling with that murderous sharp whiffler of his and — and — well, without us noticing while the Guiser was laying doggo behind the stone — Ar, hell!”

    Death of a Fool

Comments

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  • (noun) - (1) An officer who heads a procession and clears the way for it. The whifflers in the civic processions at Norwich carry swords, which they wave to and fro before them.

    --Hensleigh Wedgwood's Dictionary of English Etymology, 1878

    (2) An officer who preceded a procession, clearing the way and playing a flute.

    --William Toone's Etymological Dictionary of Obsolete Terms, 1832

    (3) The old term for fifers preceeding the body of archers who cleared the way, but more recently applied to very trifling fellows. From whiff . . . a slight fitful breeze or transcient puff of wind.

    --Admiral William Smyth's Sailor's Word Book, 1867

    January 16, 2018

  • In "Murder Must Advertise," Whifflers were those who participated in Wimsey's advertising scheme for Whifflets cigarettes -- "Whiffling Round Britain". "The great Whifflers' Club practically founded itself, and Whifflers who had formed attachments while Whiffling in company, secured special Whifflet coupons entitling them to a Whifflet wedding with a Whifflet cake and their photographs in the papers."

    December 3, 2009

  • The verb whiffler as ‘one who whiffles’ is a folk etymology. The old nouns in -er are denominative, that is, from nouns, not verbs. That noun is whiffle, in Old English wifel; wyfle ‘ax’ in Middle English. See the great halberds brandished by Swiss Guards or Tower of London Beefeaters or sergeants-at-arms (German Weibel) in court processions. Feldwebel is ‘corporal’. See George Borrow 1857 Romany Rye: “Nobody can use his fists without being taught the use of them,..no more than any one can ‘whiffle’ without being taught by a master of the art... The last of the whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago ... there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuation of Guildhall banquets; … let any one take up the old chap’s sword and try to whiffle.” Borrow’s whiffler was a performer; a parading worthy is a swaggerer. Puny volcanoes that unlike Aetna & Vesuvius erupt without great violence were dubbed whifflers by George Borrow (Tin Trumpet); he likened them to stogie-flashing wannabes. Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

    December 2, 2009

  • An officer who preceeds a procession, clearing the way and playing a flute.

    William Toone's Glossary of Obsolete and Uncommon Words, 1832

    May 17, 2008