Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who whiffles, or frequently changes his or her opinion or course.
  • n. One who argues evasively; a trifler.
  • n. One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The goldeneye.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who whiffles, or frequently changes his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; hence, a trifler.
  • n. One who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper.
  • n. An officer who went before procession to clear the way by blowing a horn, or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.
  • n. The golden-eye.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A piper or fifer.
  • n. A herald or usher; a person who leads the way, or prepares the way, for another: probably so called because the pipers (see piper,1) usually led the procession.
  • n. One who whiffles; one who changes frequently his opinion or course; one who uses shifts and evasions in argument; a fickle or unsteady person.
  • n. A puffer of tobacco; a whiffer.
  • n. The whistlewing, or goldeneye duck.

Etymologies

whiffle +‎ -er (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • (G. B.) {355} The 'whiffler' was the official sword-flourisher of the

    The Romany Rye A Sequel to 'Lavengro'

  • Let LOVE and me talk together a little on this subject — be it a young conscience, or love, or thyself, Jack, thou seest that I am for giving every whiffler audience.

    Clarissa Harlowe

  • Norman arch behind the mayor, — but likewise with Snap, and with whiffler, quart pot, and frying-pan, Billy Blind and

    Lavengro

  • Ernie is a thistle whiffler and he whiffles thistles with a thistle whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • Only time he might have had a go, Ralphy had pinched his whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • They pointed out, angrily, that the function of the whiffler was merely to go through a pantomime of making a clear space for the dance that was to follow.

    Death of a Fool

  • After a bit, Ralphy turned up and gave Ernie his whiffler.

    Death of a Fool

  • She also saw Ernie come charging offstage without his whiffler and in a roaring rage himself.

    Death of a Fool

  • Stayne returned the whiffler and went on round the wall to the O.P. entrance.

    Death of a Fool

  • “Suppose,” Carey said, “Ernie lost his temper with the old chap, and gave a kind of swipe, or suppose he was just fooling with that murderous sharp whiffler of his and — and — well, without us noticing while the Guiser was laying doggo behind the stone — Ar, hell!”

    Death of a Fool

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  • In "Murder Must Advertise," Whifflers were those who participated in Wimsey's advertising scheme for Whifflets cigarettes -- "Whiffling Round Britain". "The great Whifflers' Club practically founded itself, and Whifflers who had formed attachments while Whiffling in company, secured special Whifflet coupons entitling them to a Whifflet wedding with a Whifflet cake and their photographs in the papers."

    December 3, 2009

  • The verb whiffler as ‘one who whiffles’ is a folk etymology. The old nouns in -er are denominative, that is, from nouns, not verbs. That noun is whiffle, in Old English wifel; wyfle ‘ax’ in Middle English. See the great halberds brandished by Swiss Guards or Tower of London Beefeaters or sergeants-at-arms (German Weibel) in court processions. Feldwebel is ‘corporal’. See George Borrow 1857 Romany Rye: “Nobody can use his fists without being taught the use of them,..no more than any one can ‘whiffle’ without being taught by a master of the art... The last of the whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago ... there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuation of Guildhall banquets; … let any one take up the old chap’s sword and try to whiffle.” Borrow’s whiffler was a performer; a parading worthy is a swaggerer. Puny volcanoes that unlike Aetna & Vesuvius erupt without great violence were dubbed whifflers by George Borrow (Tin Trumpet); he likened them to stogie-flashing wannabes. Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

    December 2, 2009

  • An officer who preceeds a procession, clearing the way and playing a flute.
    William Toone's Glossary of Obsolete and Uncommon Words, 1832

    May 17, 2008