whiffle

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

1662, in sense “flutter as blown by wind”,[1] as whiff +‎ -le ((frequentive)) and (onomatopoeia) sound of wind, particularly a leaf fluttering in unsteady wind; compare whiff. Sense “something small or insignificant” is from 1680.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

whiffle (plural whiffles)

  1. A short blow or gust
  2. (obsolete) Something small or insignificant; a trifle.
  3. (obsolete) A fife or small flute.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Douce to this entry?)

Verb[edit]

whiffle (third-person singular simple present whiffles, present participle whiffling, simple past and past participle whiffled)

  1. to blow a short gust
  2. to waffle, talk aimlessly
  3. (UK) to waste time
  4. to travel quickly, whizz, whistle, with an accompanying wind-like sound
  5. (ornithology, of a bird) to descending rapidly from a height once the decision to land has been made, involving fast side-slipping first one way and then the other
  6. (intransitive) To waver, or shake, as if moved by gusts of wind; to shift, turn, or veer about.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dampier to this entry?)
  7. (transitive) To wave or shake quickly; to cause to whiffle.
  8. To change from one opinion or course to another; to use evasions; to prevaricate; to be fickle.
    • I. Watts
      A person of whiffling and unsteady turn of mind cannot keep close to a point of controversy.
  9. To disperse with, or as with, a whiff, or puff; to scatter.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dr. H. More to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 whiffle” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).