• whinge •
Pronunciation: (h)winj • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: Complain persistently in an annoying way.
Notes: This word is strictly British. It may be used 'as is' for a noun referring to whiners. Otherwise, the action noun and adjective is the present participle, whingeing. The personal noun is whinger. Notice the British and some Americans retain the final E when suffixing the word to distinguish its pronunciation from that of singing, winging, and bringing.
In Play: The verb may be used this way: "Gordon is 65 years old and still whingeing about how his mother treated him as a baby." Today's word works as a noun, too, like this: "Gretchen lets off steam by occasionally having a good whinge."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a variant of whine from Scottish and the northern British dialects. In late Old English it was hwinsian which, by Middle English was simply whinsen. It is akin to German winseln "to whine, whimper", and Icelandic hvísla "whisper". All three words came from Proto-Indo-European kwei- "to hiss, whistle" with an -n- suffix. Apparently, only Germanic languages enjoyed this PIE contribution. (Our old friend and long-time contributor Sue Gold of Westtown School thought today's Good Word deserved spreading throughout the English-speaking world.)