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From Middle English whynen, hwinen, whinen, from Old English hwīnan (to rush, to whizz, to squeal, to whine), from Proto-West Germanic *hwīnan, from Proto-Germanic *hwīnaną, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱwey- (to hiss, whistle, whisper). Cognate with Old Norse hvína, whence Icelandic hvína, Norwegian hvine, Swedish vina, and Danish hvine.

Despite the strong similarity in sound and meaning, not related with German weinen, Dutch wenen, from Proto-Germanic *wainōną (for which see dialectal English ween (to weep, lament)).



whine (plural whines)

  1. A long-drawn, high-pitched complaining cry or sound.
    • 2012 June 26, Genevieve Koski, “Music: Reviews: Justin Bieber: Believe”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 6 August 2020:
      The 18-year-old [Justin] Bieber can’t quite pull off the “adult” thing just yet: His voice may have dropped a bit since the days of “Baby,” but it still mostly registers as “angelic,” and veers toward a pubescent whine at times.
  2. A complaint or criticism.
    I need to have a quick whine about my boss before we start talking about the holiday.



whine (third-person singular simple present whines, present participle whining, simple past and past participle whined)

  1. (intransitive) To utter a high-pitched cry.
  2. (intransitive) To make a sound resembling such a cry.
    The jet engines whined at take off.
  3. (intransitive) To complain or protest with a whine or as if with a whine.
    • 1765, Catherine Jemmat, The Memoirs of Mrs. Catherine Jemmat, Daughter of the Late Admiral Yeo, of Plymouth. Written by Herself, volume I, 2nd edition, London: Printed for the author, at Charing-Cross, OCLC 316667080, page 145:
      [S]he was one of your ſoft ſpoken, canting, whining hypocrites, who with a truly jeſuitical art, could wreſt evil out of the moſt inoffenſive thought, word, look or action; []
    • 1936 Feb. 15, Ernest Hemingway, letter to Maxwell Perkins:
      Feel awfully about Scott... I always knew he couldn't think—he never could—but he had a marvelous talent and the thing is to use it—not whine in public.
  4. (intransitive) To move with a whining sound.
    The jet whined into the air.
    The wind whined and moaned through the trees.
  5. (transitive) To utter with the sound of a whine.
    The child whined all his complaints.
    Kelly Queen was whining that the boss made him put on his tie.



Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of whynen