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;Related formstwid·dler, noun
perhaps blend of twitch
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for twiddle one's thumbs
(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
Derived Formstwiddler, noun
an act or instance of twiddling
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
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Word Origin and History for twiddle one's thumbs
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
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
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