twitterrati plus request

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 24 16:28:56 UTC 2013

> could take it as an analogy with a policeman blowing a whistle to stop
someone from getting away

Yes, when you put it that way. The possibly inconsequential difference is
that just blowing a whistle won't stop anyone from getting away, but it
will alert other cops, who will pile into their Model T waving their
nightsticks in the air as they chase the evil-doer.

A ref's whistle will stop a play immediately, however.

I believe the usual metaphorical sense is that "blowing the whistle" on
somebody exposes them more than it thwarts them.


On Sun, Mar 24, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: twitterrati plus request
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> <html>
> <body>
> <font size=3>Jon, are you saying that the 1916 quotation does NOT allude
> to a policeman's whistle?  I could take it as an analogy with a
> policeman blowing a whistle to stop someone from getting away.  And
> the Daughter and Son in the quotation were in a sense getting away -- one
> to Europe and the other to Yale.<br><br>
> Joel<br><br>
> At 3/24/2013 11:00 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:<br>
> <blockquote type=cite class=cite cite="">"Whistle-blower" comes
> decades later than "blow the whistle on" (go figure)<br>
> which, as far as anyone has ever known, alludes to a policeman's
> whistle.<br><br>
> This early ex., however, suggests otherwise. The (earlier) meaning here
> is<br>
> clearly to "oppose successfully; thwart decisively" rather than
> to "expose":<br><br>
> 1916 George Ade in _Cosmopolitan_ (June) 42: Claude...had to blow
> the<br>
> Whistle on Friend Wife, who was getting ready to send Daughter to
> Europe<br>
> and put Son in Yale. </font></blockquote></body>
> </html>
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