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Alternative forms[edit]


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



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?)


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. (Britain) To waste time.
  4. To travel quickly with an accompanying wind-like sound; whizz, whistle along.
  5. (ornithology, of a bird) To descend 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]


  1. 1.0 1.1 whiffle” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.