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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blow the whistle on (somebody)

Idiom: "blow the whistle on (somebody)"; used as a verb

First Example:
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 anything?
Neil: 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.    

Second Example:
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!
Victor: Really?                                                                                
Neil: Yeah. He called the IRS and told them; they apparently give money to whistleblowers.
Victor: What did the company do?
Neil: 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." 

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