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 tweaking

twist, tease, pinch, jerk, pluck, pull

Examples from the Web for tweaking

Contemporary Examples of tweaking

Historical Examples of tweaking

  • "Tweaking his nose," said Captain Giles in a scandalized tone.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • Boyd would have enjoyed this game of tweaking a wildcat's tail.

    Ride Proud, Rebel!

    Andre Alice Norton

  • For Samuel had hold of his ear, and was tweaking it sharply.

    The Stokesley Secret

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • He was a very unsatisfactory steward and a miserable wretch besides, but I would just as soon think of tweaking his nose.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • "It's just a progressive Christmas pah'ty, grandfathah," she explained, tweaking his ear as she talked.

British Dictionary definitions for tweaking


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 tweaking



"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