blow the whistle



When used idiomatically, probably an allusion to a police officer blowing his or her whistle on observing a violation of the law.


blow the whistle (third-person singular simple present blows the whistlepresent participle blowing the whistlesimple past blew the whistlepast participle blown the whistle)

  1. (idiomatic, usually with “on”) To disclose information to the public or to appropriate authorities concerning the illegal or socially harmful actions of a person or group, especially a corporation or  agency. In some jurisdictions, it is illegal to fire a person for blowing the whistle on an employer.
  2. (team sports) To make a piercing sound which signals a referee’s action or the end of a game.


  • (disclose information): tattle, tell on; See also Thesaurus: rat out

Related terms

  • whistle-blower