Where Does The Saying ‘As Clean As A Whistle’ Come From?
Who doesn't love having a clean home? But sometimes getting it to that state is a different story.
The other day as I was cleaning my bathroom I found myself say that the room now looked as clean as a whistle. I couldn't remember when I had heard it from but also was wondering where the phrase originated from.
There are many sayings when it comes to cleanliness or being clean but one that has always struck me as quite odd was 'as clean as a whistle' and where did the saying come from?
According to Word Detective.com, the phrase first made an appearance in the 18th century in reference to "completely, absolutely, leaving no trace," referring to being clean and not having any traces of dirt. But how does that really relate to 'as clean as a whistle?' Could it have been changed over time and between different people?
As it turns out, the more probable original version could have been 'as sharp as a whistle' referring to its sound and or 'as slick as a whistle'.
"An interesting parallel to “clean as a whistle” may be found in the phrase “clean as a hound’s tooth,” which has been used to mean “spotless” since about 1900. Hounds are not known for their oral hygiene, of course, so it’s likely that this “clean” originally meant “sharp,” just as in “clean as a whistle.”" - Word Detective.com.