More and more often I see this word in news headlines. When I saw this word first time I thought it's quite negative as direct translation in my native language. Person who talks a lot and reveals other's secrets is not usually welcomed at all. The way how this word is formed — whistle and blower — don't imply anything good as well. So what's the true emotional tone behind this word?

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    Whistleblower = Insider in an organization who reveals to the public its illegal or nefarious deeds. A whistleblower inside XYZ Company might reveal that the company was dumping toxic chemicals into the river, for example. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 14 '16 at 11:58
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    The whistle here is the whistle blown by a referee calling a foul, or a policeman summoning assistance in apprehending a criminal -- so it has a positive connotation. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 14 '16 at 12:12
  • @StoneyB That's interesting point. I was under wrong assumption that to whistle here means to speak with high-pitched voice. Thanks for this clarification! – George Sovetov Apr 14 '16 at 14:00
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    The word's tone is not positive to the person or organization at which a whistle-blower blows the whistle! Maybe long term, but not if they're given fines or forced to make changes in how they operate. Depends what side of the fence you're on. – Alan Carmack Apr 14 '16 at 20:23

A whistleblower is, in fact, someone who tells on people breaking the law or, more generally speaking, doing something wrong. So it is, in fact, a positive term used by the right side of the law. On the other hand, evildoers would call that same person a snitch, which is a very pejorative word for someone who tells on someone else.


It is implicit that the whistleblower is revealing wrongdoing within an organisation, so the tone is always positive. In the UK at least, whistleblowers are protected by law from any fear of retribution.

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    Thank you for answer. If I could mark several answer as correct, I would definitely mark yours too. – George Sovetov Apr 14 '16 at 13:57

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