- to turn about or play with lightly or idly, especially with the fingers; twirl.
- 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
- (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
Word Origin 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.
twiddle one's thumbs
Be bored or idle, as in There I sat for three hours, twiddling my thumbs, while he made call after call. This expression alludes to the habit of idly turning one's thumbs about one another during a period of inactivity. [Mid-1800s]