twiddle

[ twid-l ]
/ ˈtwɪd l /

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.

noun

the act of twiddling; turn; twirl.

Nearby words

  1. twice-born,
  2. twice-laid,
  3. twice-told,
  4. twicer,
  5. twickenham,
  6. twiddle one's thumbs,
  7. twig,
  8. twig blight,
  9. twig borer,
  10. twig girdler

Idioms

    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

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


British Dictionary definitions for twiddle one's thumbs

twiddle

/ (ˈtwɪdəl) /

verb

(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

noun

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 one's thumbs

twiddle

v.

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

Idioms and Phrases with twiddle one's thumbs

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]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.