Maria: How was the soccer game?
Neil: It was awful! The other team kept cheating, but the ref
never blew the whistle on them!
Maria: What were they doing?
Neil: This one guy kept hitting the ball
with his hands, and another guy kept tackling people in way that are supposed
to be illegal.
Maria: And the referee never said
Nope. I don’t think he was even watching.
Meaning: The idiom “blow
the whistle on (someone)” is usually used when someone reports someone
else’s wrongdoing. In the example above,
Neil says that the referee never blew the whistle on players who were acting
inappropriately. However, while the
idiom may seem obvious in terms of sports (as a referee has a whistle to blow),
this idiom can be used in other ways, as seen in the example below.
Victor: What happened to Russell? I haven’t seen him at work lately.
Nancy: You didn’t hear? He found out that
the company was lying about their taxes, so he blew the whistle on the company!
Neil: Yeah. He called the IRS and told them; they
apparently give money to whistleblowers.
Victor: What did the company do?
Well, there’s going to be an
investigation, but of course, once they found out, they asked him to leave.
Meaning: In this usage, “blow the whistle on” is used to
report a company or other person for some kind of illegal activity. In the example above, Russell “blew the
whistle” on his company for lying on their tax forms, an illegal
activity. People like Russell are also
referred to as “whistleblowers.”
For more information, please visit www.languagesystems.edu