“Why not sit down and wet your whistle?”
We know this euphemism means to have a drink, and commonly is used when referring to an alcoholic beverage. Where did this saying come from?
Many sources point towards ye olde English pubs as the source of this term. It’s said whistles were baked into the handles or rims of their cups and patrons would blow these whistles when they wanted them refilled. When the cup was filled, the whistle would then become wet, hence “wet your whistle.” This, however, is pure conjecture. No evidence has been found to support this.
The most likely origin is a much older use of the term. It’s documented in English literature written as early as the 14th century in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that the mouth and throat were often referred to as “the whistle.” So to wet the whistle was to quench your thirst or wet your mouth and throat.
Either way, the meaning involves drinking or taking a drink.
On a final note, “wet your whistle” doesn’t mean the same thing as “whet your whistle.” But that’s fodder for another post another time.