verb (used with or without object), doo·dled, doo·dling.

to draw or scribble idly: He doodled during the whole lecture.
to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity.
Dialect. to deceive; cheat.


a design, figure, or the like, made by idle scribbling.
Archaic. a foolish or silly person.

Origin of doodle

1625–30 in archaic sense “a fool”; 1935–40 in current senses; compare Low German dudeltopf simpleton
Related formsdoo·dler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for doodling

trifle, draw, putter, tinker, fiddle, scribble

Examples from the Web for doodling

Historical Examples of doodling

  • "Why—its like some of the designs in his doodling," he exclaimed.

    The 4-D Doodler

    Graph Waldeyer

  • Perry looked at the table, doodling in the puddles of beer with a fingertip.


    Cory Doctorow

  • Don't mind my doodling either—see the border I drew around your true name while I daydreamed and my pen was thinking for me?

  • Handy Sam, with one foot up on the table and a pencil between his toes, was doodling self-consciously on a paper napkin.

    At the Post

    Horace Leonard Gold

  • When he got back to Tortha Karf's office, the Chief was awake, and doodling on his notepad with his multicolor pen.

    Time Crime

    H. Beam Piper

British Dictionary definitions for doodling



to scribble or draw aimlessly
to play or improvise idly
(intr often foll by away) US to dawdle or waste time


a shape, picture, etc, drawn aimlessly
Derived Formsdoodler, noun

Word Origin for doodle

C20: perhaps from C17 doodle a foolish person, but influenced in meaning by dawdle; compare Low German dudeltopf simpleton
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 doodling



"scrawl aimlessly," 1935, from dialectal doodle, dudle "fritter away time, trifle," or associated with dawdle. It was a noun meaning "simple fellow" from 1620s.

LONGFELLOW: That's a name we made up back home for people who make foolish designs on paper when they're thinking. It's called doodling. Almost everybody's a doodler. Did you ever see a scratch pad in a telephone booth? People draw the most idiotic pictures when they're thinking. Dr. Von Holler, here, could probably think up a long name for it, because he doodles all the time. ["Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," screenplay by Robert Riskin, 1936; based on "Opera Hat," serialized in "American Magazine" beginning May 1935, by Clarence Aldington Kelland]

Related: Doodled; Doodling.

Doodle Sack. A bagpipe. Dutch. -- Also the private parts of a woman. ["Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1796]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper