1662, in sense “flutter as blown by wind”, 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.
whiffle (plural whiffles)
- A short blow or gust
- (obsolete) Something small or insignificant; a trifle.
- (obsolete) A fife or small flute.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Douce to this entry?)
- to blow a short gust
- to waffle, talk aimlessly
- (Britain) to waste time
- to travel quickly, whizz, whistle, with an accompanying wind-like sound
- (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
- (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?)
- (transitive) To wave or shake quickly; to cause to whiffle.
- 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.
- I. Watts
- 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?)
- “whiffle” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.