from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To produce a clear musical sound by forcing air through the teeth or through an aperture formed by pursing the lips.
  • intransitive v. To produce a clear, shrill, sharp musical sound by blowing on or through a device.
  • intransitive v. To produce a high-pitched sound when moving swiftly through the air: The stone whistled past my head.
  • intransitive v. To produce a high-pitched sound by the rapid movement of air through an opening or past an obstruction: Wind whistled through the cracks in the windows.
  • intransitive v. To emit a shrill, sharp, high-pitched cry, as some birds and other animals.
  • transitive v. To produce by whistling: whistle a tune.
  • transitive v. To summon, signal, or direct by whistling.
  • transitive v. To cause to move with a whistling noise.
  • n. A small wind instrument for making whistling sounds by means of the breath.
  • n. A device for making whistling sounds by means of forced air or steam: a factory whistle.
  • n. A sound produced by a whistling device or by whistling through the lips.
  • n. A whistling sound, as of an animal or a projectile.
  • n. The act of whistling.
  • n. A whistling sound used to summon or command.
  • idiom blow the whistle Slang To expose a wrongdoing in the hope of bringing it to a halt: an attorney who blew the whistle on governmental corruption.
  • idiom whistle in the dark To attempt to keep one's courage up.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A device designed to be placed in the mouth in order to make a whistling sound.
  • n. An act of whistling.
  • n. A shrill, high-pitched sound made by whistling.
  • n. Any high-pitched sound similar to the sound made by whistling.
  • n. A suit (from whistle and flute).
  • v. To make a shrill, high-pitched sound by forcing air through the mouth. To produce a whistling sound, restrictions to the flow of air are created using the teeth, tongue and lips.
  • v. To move in such a way as to create a whistling sound.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sharp, shrill, more or less musical sound, made by forcing the breath through a small orifice of the lips, or through or instrument which gives a similar sound; the sound used by a sportsman in calling his dogs; the shrill note of a bird.
  • n. The shrill sound made by wind passing among trees or through crevices, or that made by bullet, or the like, passing rapidly through the air; the shrill noise (much used as a signal, etc.) made by steam or gas escaping through a small orifice, or impinging against the edge of a metallic bell or cup.
  • n. An instrument in which gas or steam forced into a cavity, or against a thin edge, produces a sound more or less like that made by one who whistles through the compressed lips.
  • n. The mouth and throat; -- so called as being the organs of whistling.
  • intransitive v. To make a kind of musical sound, or series of sounds, by forcing the breath through a small orifice formed by contracting the lips; also, to emit a similar sound, or series of notes, from the mouth or beak, as birds.
  • intransitive v. To make a shrill sound with a wind or steam instrument, somewhat like that made with the lips; to blow a sharp, shrill tone.
  • intransitive v. To sound shrill, or like a pipe; to make a sharp, shrill sound.
  • transitive v. To form, utter, or modulate by whistling.
  • transitive v. To send, signal, or call by a whistle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To utter a kind of musical sound by forcing the breath through a small orifice formed by contracting the lips.
  • To emit a warbling or sharp, chirping sound or song, as a bird.
  • To sound shrill or sharp; move or rush with shrill or whizzing sound.
  • To sound a whistle or similar wind- or steam-instrument: as, locomotives whistle at crossings.
  • To give information by whistling; hence, to become informer.
  • An Australian bird, Colluricincla (or Collurocincla or Collyriocincla) harmonica, the harmonic thrush of Latham, usually placed in the family Laniidæ, now in the Prionopidœ, or another of this genus, as the Tasmanian C. rectirostris (C. selbyi). The species named are 9½ to 10 inches long, chiefly of a gray color varied with brown and white.
  • Same as whistlewing.
  • Same as whistling coot.
  • See snipe 1 .
  • In the United States, the common American swan, Cygnus amcricanus or columbianus, as distinguished from the trumpeter, C. (Olor) buccinator.
  • To form, utter, or modulate by whistling: as, to whistle a tune or air.
  • To call, direct, or signal bv or as by a whistle.
  • To send with a whistling sound.
  • n. A more or less piercing or sharp sound produced by forcing the breath through a small orifice formed by contracting the lips: as, the merry whistle of a boy.
  • n. Any similar sound. Especially— The shrill note of a bird.
  • n. A sound made by the wind blowing through branches of trees, the rigging of a vessel, etc., or by a flying missile.
  • n. A call or signal made by whistling.
  • n. An instrument or apparatus for producing a whistling sound. Whistles are of various shapes and sizes, but they all utilize the principle of the direct flute or flageolet—that of a stream of air so directed through a tube as to impinge on a sharp edge.
  • n. Specifically
  • n. The small pipe used in signaling, etc., by boatswains, huntsmen, policemen, etc.
  • n. A small tin or wooden tube, fitted with a mouthpiece and pierced generally with six holes, used as a musical toy. Often called a penny whistle. See flageolet.
  • n. An instrument sounded by escaping steam, used for giving signals, alarms, etc., on railway-engines, steamships, etc. Sec cuts under steam-whistle and passenger-engine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small wind instrument that produces a whistling sound by blowing into it
  • n. the act of signalling (e.g., summoning) by whistling or blowing a whistle
  • v. move, send, or bring as if by whistling
  • v. make a whining, ringing, or whistling sound
  • v. make whistling sounds
  • v. move with, or as with, a whistling sound
  • v. give a signal by whistling
  • n. the sound made by something moving rapidly or by steam coming out of a small aperture
  • n. an inexpensive fipple flute
  • v. utter or express by whistling
  • n. acoustic device that forces air or steam against an edge or into a cavity and so produces a loud shrill sound


Middle English whistlen, from Old English hwistlian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English whistlen; Old English hwistlan, from Proto-Germanic *hwistlōjanan (Wiktionary)



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