Word Confusion: Whinny versus Whiny

Posted March 9, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I’ll take a whinny over a whiny any day. Whether it’s a child or a nagging person, I’d much rather listen to a horse. I’ll bet you’d rather listen to a horse’s whinny over me whining on about what irritates me about authors’ spelling habits or what I’m whinging on about in a book someone wrote…*grin*…

I have occasionally read of a person who has a laugh that sounds like a whinny. It’s an excellent use of adjective to project the sense of a cringing, fawning, or handwashing sort of person. Someone who’s either too timid for words *gag*, is sucking up to others, or one who’s hiding his (or her) evil light beneath a camouflage that includes a braying laugh.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Whinny Whiny
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster

Horse's head in profile

Image by Ealdgyth (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

A whiny toddler

Image by Sterilgutassistentin (Own work) [GPL], via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1

Verb, intransitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: whinnies
Past tense or past participle: whinnied
Gerund or present participle: whinnying


Alternative spelling: whiney

Gentle, high-pitched neigh

  • A whinnying sound

Verb, intransitive:
To neigh, especially in a low or gentle way

Verb, transitive:
To utter with, or as if with, a whinny

Long, high-pitched, complaining cry

Complaining tone of voice

[British] Whinge

We heard a whinny in the distance.

That poor horse’s whinnies became increasingly weak.

Flicka gave a soft whinny when she saw Annabelle.

I knew it was a whinny of delight as Blackie pranced up to the fence for her carrot.

Verb, intransitive:
The pony whinnied and tossed his head happily.

Geez, Mabel whinnied like a horse in heat when she laughed.

I heard the horse whinnying.

Verb, transitive:
Your son is in the living room, whinnying and bucking while your granddaughter rides him.

She gave another high-pitched whinny and posed beside him.

She had a whiny voice.

Someone needs a nap ’cause they’re getting whiny.

God, woman, must you be whinging on all the time?

Adjective: whining, unwhining
Comparative Adjectives: whinier, whiniest
Adverb: unwhiningly, whiningly
Noun: whine, whiner, whininess
Verb: whine, whined, whining
History of the Word:
1 From the early 19th century.

2 Late Middle English: imitative.

1850-55: whine + -y evolved from the 1520-30 whine and ultimately imitative; compare to the Latin hinnire.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?