Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I heard the expression

whiffling and waffling all over the place

but can't find a definition for it. Maybe it's a misspelling. What does it mean?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

To whiffle and to waffle both mean to vacillate between ideas or courses of action. A "waffler" is someone who can't make up his or her mind. Using the verbs together is just for emphasis.

share|improve this answer
    
That is a neat explanation, and so +1 :) –  karthiks Sep 21 '11 at 13:33
add comment

One of the OED’s definitions of ‘waffle’ is indeed ‘to waver; to vacillate or equivocate’, but the meaning of ‘waffle’ most familiar to me is to talk or write at great length without actually saying very much. The OED gives six defintions for ‘whiffle’, one of which is ‘to vacillate, to be variable or evasive’, so in some contexts the two words can mean the same thing.

share|improve this answer
    
Do people use "whiffle" in this context (to vacillate) without adding "waffle"? My impression is that "whiffle" is usually followed by "waffle" when it means "vacillate". In contrast, "waffle" is quite often used for this meaning by itself. –  Peter Shor Sep 21 '11 at 13:36
1  
The OED’s citations for this sense have ‘whiffle’ with nary a ‘waffle’. I’ve not previously come across ‘whiffle’, whether waffleless or otherwise, so cannot comment on current usage. –  Barrie England Sep 21 '11 at 15:45
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.