verb (used with object), twid·dled, twid·dling.

to turn about or play with lightly or idly, especially with the fingers; twirl.

verb (used without object), twid·dled, twid·dling.

to play or trifle idly with something; fiddle.
to turn about lightly; twirl.


the act of twiddling; turn; twirl.


    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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for twiddle

Contemporary Examples of twiddle

Historical Examples of twiddle

British Dictionary definitions for twiddle



(when intr, often foll by with) to twirl or fiddle (with), often in an idle way
to do nothing; be unoccupied
(intr) to turn, twirl, or rotate
(intr) rare to be occupied with trifles


an act or instance of twiddling
Derived Formstwiddler, noun

Word Origin for twiddle

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 twiddle

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