- Sir Frank,1907–96, English engineer and inventor.
- to cut or shave strips or pieces from (wood, a stick, etc), esp with a knife
- (tr) to make or shape by paring or shaving
- (tr; often foll by away, down, off, etc) to reduce, destroy, or wear away gradually
- Northern English dialect (intr) to complain or worry about something continually
- British dialect a knife, esp a large one
Word Origin for whittle
- Sir Frank. 1907–96, English engineer, who invented the jet engine for aircraft; flew first British jet aircraft (1941)
1550s, "to cut thin shavings from (something) with a knife," from Middle English whittel "a knife" (c1400), variant of thwittle (late 14c.), from Old English þwitan "to cut," from Proto-Germanic *thwitanan (cf. Old Norse þveita "to hew"). Figurative sense is attested from 1746. Related: Whittled; whittling.
- British aeronautical engineer and inventor who developed the first aircraft engine powered by jet propulsion in 1937.