whiffler

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From whiffle +‎ -er.

Noun[edit]

whiffler (plural whifflers)

  1. (obsolete) One who whiffles, or frequently changes their course or opinion.
  2. (obsolete) One who argues evasively; a trifler.
    • 1714 February, [Jonathan Swift], The Publick Spirit of the Whigs: Set forth in Their Generous Encouragement of the Author of the Crisis: [], 3rd edition, London: [] [John Barber] for John Morphew, [], published 1714, →OCLC, page 13:
      Every Whiffler in a Laced Coat, who frequents the Chocolate-Houſe, and is able to ſpell the Title of a Pamphlet, ſhall Talk of the Conſtitution with as much Plauſibility as this very Solemn Writer, and with as good a Grace blame the Clergy for medling with Politicks which they do not underſtand.
  3. (obsolete) One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  4. (obsolete) An officer who went before a procession to clear the way, by blowing a horn or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.
    • 1599 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, prologue], page 91, column 1:
      [...] Men, Wiues and Boyes, / Whoſe ſhouts & claps out-voyce the deep-mouth'd Sea, / Which like a mightie Whiffler 'fore the King, / Seems to prepare his way: [...]
    • 1822, Robert Nares, A Glossary:
      Whifflers, or fifers, generally went first in a procession, from which circumstance the name was transferred to other persons who succeeded to that office, and at length was given to those who went forward merely to clear the way for the procession [] In the city of London, young freemen, who march at the head of their proper companies on the Lord Mayor's day, sometimes with flags, were called whifflers, or bachelor whifflers, not because they cleared the way, but because they went first, as whifflers did.
  5. (US, dialectal) The goldeneye.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for whiffler”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)