You can blow a whistle and be a whistleblower, but we also used the expression “whistleblower” for a person who tells the authorities when a company is doing something illegal. This episode also includes explanations of a “tattletale” and “telling on” someone.
Expressions included in the learning materials
- To whistle
- A whistle
- A whistleblower
- Erin Brockovich
- Whistle while you work
- To tell on
Maura: Today’s word is … “whistleblower.”
Harp: Hmm, what does this mean?
Maura: A whistleblower is someone who tells—usually the media or the authorities like the police—that a large corporation or a company is doing something wrong or illegal.
Harp: Exactly. So a whistleblower blows the whistle on someone. So the literal definition would be when you blow a whistle you call attention to something, in this case obviously something bad.
Harp: When you say “whistleblower” you are saying calling attention to something negative.
Maura: What’s that movie with the whistleblower?
Harp: I think Erin Brockovich?
Maura: Right, that one came out a few years ago.
Harp: Exactly, that’s a really good one. That one’s with Julia Roberts and it’s basically that she takes on a big corporation who’s doing a lot of environmental damage and they’re ruining the health of a small community and they’re not taking responsibility. So she blows the whistle on what the company is doing. She exposes the company.
Maura: Right, and usually being a whistleblower is not easy because a lot of people are being quiet about it and they don’t want to get in trouble or lose their job and there’s one or two people who are blowing the whistle on the company.
Audio/Learning Materials: Culips