Printable Version
Pronunciation: (h)wis-êl-blo-wêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Tattle-tale, snitch, squealer, stool pigeon; someone who reports bad activities in some organization.

Notes: The four synonyms in the Meaning above all have negative connotations. Today's Good Word has only good connotations. If you have an inclination for hyphens, you may still spell this word whistle-blower.

In Play: Whistleblowers are the bane of those who break laws and rules: "Since most crimes are committed in secret, they can be solved only with the help of undercover agents or whistleblowers." There are few things that can stop whistleblowers: "Most corporations have a non-disparagement clause in their employment contracts to discourage whistleblowers."

Word History: We find cousins of whistle in other Germanic languages like Swedish vissla "to whistle" and Danish hvisle "to hiss". These words are ultimately built from the PIE word kwei- "to hiss, whistle", which also went into the making of whisper.

Blower is, of course, the personal noun from blow. In Old English it was blawan, cousin of German blasen "blow" and blähen "swell, balloon", Danish blse "blow", and Dutch blazen "to blow, whistle". All these come from PIE bhel-/bhol- "blow, swell" with the possibility of metathesis (bhle-/bhlo-). It also went into the making of bowl, ball, and balloon. Follicle was borrowed from a Latin diminutive (folliculus) of follis "inflatable ball, bellows (blower)" from the same PIE word.

Dr. Goodword,

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