Regarded as at least unwise and unlucky in a number of professions, including sailors who maintain that it conjures up a wind, miners, and actors. This latter has been rationalized by some as the fact that in old theatres certain sounds carry so readily that anyone whistling backstage can ruin a performance. However, many less logical reports state that whistling in the dressing-room causes the person nearest the door to be ill or sacked. Anyone guilty of whistling has to go outside and turn round three times and, in some cases, cannot come back into the dressing-room until invited to return (reported since 1910). Whistling after dark, in any situation, has been regarded as unwise since at least the beginning of the 18th century. Often no particular reason is given, but it is probably again based on the idea that whistling summons spirits or draws attention to oneself. Similarly, whistling should be particularly avoided by women; it was typically a skill with which men and boys entertained themselves, so a woman or girl attempting it would be labelled unfeminine. The rhyme quoted to reinforce this has a constant first but varied second line:
   A whistling woman and a crowing hen
   Is enough to make the Devil come out of his den
   Versions of this rhyme have been regularly reported from all over Britain since at least 1721.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 440-2.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whistling — Whis tling, a. & n. from {Whistle}, v. [1913 Webster] {Whistling buoy}. (Naut.) See under {Buoy}. {Whistling coot} (Zo[ o]l.), the American black scoter. {Whistling Dick}. (Zo[ o]l.) (a) An Australian shrike thrush ({Colluricincla Selbii}). (b)… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • whistling — [hwis′liŋ, wis′iŋ] n. [ME whistlinge < OE hwistlung] 1. the act or sound of a person, animal, or thing that whistles 2. shrill, noisy breathing by a horse, caused by a disorder of the air passages …   English World dictionary

  • Whistling — Human whistling is the production of sound by means of a constant stream of air from the mouth. The air is moderated by the tongue, lips, teeth, or fingers to create turbulence, and the mouth acts as a resonant chamber to enhance the resulting… …   Wikipedia

  • whistling — noun 1. the sound made by something moving rapidly or by steam coming out of a small aperture (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑whistle • Derivationally related forms: ↑whistle, ↑whistle (for: ↑whistle) …   Useful english dictionary

  • whistling — whis·tle || hwɪsl / w n. shrill sound produced by forcing air through a small opening (as between the lips or teeth); device which produces a whistle by forcing air or steam through an opening (i.e. tea kettle, train whistle); act of whistling… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Whistling — Whistle Whis tle, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Whistled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Whistling}.] [AS. hwistlian; akin to Sw. hvissla, Dan. hvisle, Icel. hv[=i]sla to whisper, and E. whisper. [root]43. See {Whisper}.] [1913 Webster] 1. To make a kind of musical… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • whistling — noun Date: 14th century the act or sound of one that whistles ; whistle …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • whistling — См. sibilante …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • whistling — /hwis ling, wis /, n. 1. the act of a person or thing that whistles. 2. the sound produced. 3. Vet. Pathol. a form of roaring characterized by a peculiarly shrill sound. [bef. 900; ME; OE hwistlung. See WHISTLE, ING1] * * * …   Universalium

  • whistling — Synonyms and related words: acute, argute, assibilation, buzz, creaky, ear piercing, effervescence, effervescing, fizz, fizzle, fizzling, frication, frictional rustling, hiss, hissing, howling, hush, hushing, keen, keening, lisp, penetrating,… …   Moby Thesaurus