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verb (used with object), twid·dled, twid·dling.
  1. to turn about or play with lightly or idly, especially with the fingers; twirl.
verb (used without object), twid·dled, twid·dling.
  1. to play or trifle idly with something; fiddle.
  2. to turn about lightly; twirl.
  1. the act of twiddling; turn; twirl.
  1. 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 formstwid·dler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for twiddler


  1. (when intr, often foll by with) to twirl or fiddle (with), often in an idle way
  2. to do nothing; be unoccupied
  3. (intr) to turn, twirl, or rotate
  4. (intr) rare to be occupied with trifles
  1. an act or instance of twiddling
Derived Formstwiddler, 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

Word Origin and History for twiddler



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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