Petition Closed
Petitioning Merriam-Webster and 1 other

Change your synonyms for whistleblower.


Whether it's protecting our troops by disclosing faulty body armor or exposing major financial crimes or reporting on serious risks to our health and public safety, whistleblowers are increasingly stepping forward on behalf of the public good.  Yet that old school-yard mentality of “nobody likes a snitch” persists.  It's high time for a change.

And there could be no better place to start this change than where the word is defined - the dictionary and thesaurus.  Of the thirty synonyms Merriam-Webster and Thesaurus.com use to describe whistleblowers, the vast majority of them are derogatory and paint whistleblowers as dishonest, disloyal and driven by unsavory motives.  Here is just a sampling: Betrayer; Bigmouth; Busybody; Fat Mouth; Fink; Gossip; Rat; Rumormonger; Snitch; Squealer; Stool Pigeon; Tattletale; and Troublemaker.  These online publications – which collectively boast 90 million monthly visitors – are perpetuating a negative stereotype of whistleblowers and contributing to their continued persecution and mistreatment.  That means fewer people coming forward to protect us when they see something wrong.

Please help us change this archaic, fallacious and downright shameful portrayal of whistleblowers.  Sign our petition to urge Thesaurus.com and Merriam-Webster to redraft their listings of whistleblower synonyms to more accurately reflect these brave and selfless souls who have risked so much to make this world a better, safer and more just place.  Please also click here to provide your suggestions for more appropriate synonyms, which we will update in the petition on a regular basis.

Letter to
Merriam-Webster
Thesaurus.com
We are writing to urge you to redraft your synonym listings for the word “whistleblower.”

Of the thirty synonyms your two publications currently provide, the vast majority of them are deeply derogatory and paint the whistleblower as dishonest, disloyal and driven by unsavory motives. Here is just a small sampling: Betrayer; Bigmouth; Busybody; Fat Mouth; Fink; Gossip; Rat; Rumormonger; Snitch; Squealer; Stool Pigeon; Tattletale; and Troublemaker. This represents an archaic, fallacious and downright shameful portrayal of these brave and selfless individuals who have risked so much to make this world a better, safer and more just place. In maintaining this lexicon, your publications – which collectively boast 90 million monthly visitors – are perpetuating the negative stereotype of whistleblowers, contributing to their continued persecution and mistreatment (through rising rates of whistleblower retaliation) and providing a strong disincentive for others to step forward in the face of fraud or injustice.

Here are several synonyms that more honestly and accurately describe whistleblowers: watchdog, truthteller, and fraud-buster. We ask that you replace your current whistleblower synonyms with these and other terms more befitting the true character and contributions of whistleblowers.