verb (used with object)

to pinch and pull with a jerk and twist: to tweak someone's ear; to tweak someone's nose.
to pull or pinch the nose of, especially gently: He tweaked the baby on greeting.
to make a minor adjustment to: to tweak a computer program.


an act or instance of tweaking; a sharp, twisting pull or jerk.

Origin of tweak

First recorded in 1595–1605; akin to twitch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tweak

twist, tease, pinch, jerk, pluck, pull

Examples from the Web for tweak

Contemporary Examples of tweak

Historical Examples of tweak

  • I have half a mind to go after him and tweak his pigtail soundly.

    A Chinese Command

    Harry Collingwood

  • This one as you see here would do nothing at all, if he was not afraid of a tweak.'


    Fanny Burney

  • He tweaked the string and his tweak was met with uncompromising resistance.

  • I mean no harm; a little mischief only; and, at most, a tweak of one proboscis or more.


    W. Gilmore Simms

  • I must have this paper, and tweak these hypocrites by the nose.

British Dictionary definitions for tweak


verb (tr)

to twist, jerk, or pinch with a sharp or sudden movementto tweak someone's nose
motor racing slang to tune (a car or engine) for peak performance
informal to make a minor alteration


an instance of tweaking
informal a minor alteration
Derived Formstweaky, adjective

Word Origin for tweak

Old English twiccian; related to Old High German zwecchōn; see twitch
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 tweak

"pinch, pluck, twist," usually to the nose, probably from Old English twiccian "to pluck," of obscure origin; perhaps related to twitch. Meaning "to make fine adjustments" is attested from 1966. Related: Tweaked; tweaking. The noun in this sense is recorded by 1989.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper