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Have tried to find out (checked several sources) what the difference is between: "свистать" and "свистеть"?

Do you have an explanation?

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In the modern language, свистать is a little bit outdated, but otherwise is a synonym to свистеть ("to whistle").

Historically, it's an iterative, similar to летать / лететь, плавать / плыть etc.

In some idioms (свистать всех наверх!, ищи-свищи!) or metaphorical meanings "to hiss, to boo (as when expressing discontent)", "to make whistling sound (of a wind)", etc., only one verb of the pair can be used:

  • Играют волны, ветер свищет

  • Профессора на рысаках не ездят, меня освистали бы студенты.

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