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[twid-l] /ˈtwɪd l/
verb (used with object), twiddled, twiddling.
to turn about or play with lightly or idly, especially with the fingers; twirl.
verb (used without object), twiddled, twiddling.
to play or trifle idly with something; fiddle.
to turn about lightly; twirl.
the act of twiddling; turn; twirl.
twiddle one's thumbs, to do nothing; be idle:
Business was slack, and the salespeople were twiddling their thumbs.
Origin of twiddle
1530-40; perhaps blend of twitch and fiddle
Related forms
twiddler, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for twiddle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A man who has been active hates 270 to sit down and twiddle his thumbs.

    The Place of Honeymoons Harold MacGrath
  • Then I did remember more or less, while Hans continued to twiddle the hat.

    The Ivory Child H. Rider Haggard
  • I twiddle your little good Andrew to assert it for us twenty times a day.

    Evan Harrington, Complete George Meredith
  • Get under the pilot an' sort o' twiddle ye off the track, don't they?

    The Day's Work, Volume 1 Rudyard Kipling
  • Waiting the answer, he joined his hands, and began to twiddle his thumbs.

  • And the rest of us are to sit and twiddle our thumbs while you soliloquize?

    The Idiot at Home John Kendrick Bangs
  • On the other side he could twiddle his fingers at the corporal, who dared not pursue.

    The Sheriff of Badger George B. Pattullo
  • And I think, by then, she'll be able to twiddle over them wires by herself.'

  • They simply reach into our minds and twiddle around and—zoop!

    The Slizzers Jerome Bixby
British Dictionary definitions for twiddle


when intr, often foll by with. to twirl or fiddle (with), often in an idle way
to do nothing; be unoccupied
(intransitive) to turn, twirl, or rotate
(intransitive) (rare) to be occupied with trifles
an act or instance of twiddling
Derived Forms
twiddler, noun
Word Origin
C16: probably a blend of twirl + fiddle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for twiddle

1540s, "to trifle," of unknown origin; of the fingers, first recorded 1670s. Figurative phrase twiddle one's thumbs "have nothing to do" is recorded from 1846; to twirl one's thumbs in the same sense is recorded from 1816. Related: Twiddled; twiddling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for twiddle



The tilde, a diacritical mark used especially in Spanish


To change something in a small way; tweak (1980s+ Computer)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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