Whistle, clean as a

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3 comments on this post.
  1. Elise Sheppard:

    Word Detective,
    I love you! Living in the sticks myself, in a town of 900 in the poorest county of the poorest state (yes, the dog chases whistle pigs down by the river) I sometimes looooong for an erudite discussion of anything.
    I believe you are spot-on in your explanation and appreciate you.
    Elise Sheppard

  2. Crystal B:

    “the old simile describes the whistling sound of a sword as it swishes through the air to decapitate someone, and an early 19th century quotation does suggest this connection: ‘A first rate shot.(his) head taken off as clean as a whistle.’ (Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins)Jul 15, 2011
    etymology – “Clean as a whistle” — why is a whistle considered …
    Stack Exchange › english › questions › c…

    *I too was pondering the origin of this saying with a pal when at the same time we decided to, d’un, d’un, d’un, google it and this is what appears in the beginning of the results. I take no credit whatsoever, I just wanted to share, thank you.

  3. Nick Hand:

    My guess is the whistle on a steam train has steam blown thru it – making it super clean. I think this also ties in with the first observations of this phrase- around time of first steam engines

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