- to cut, trim, or shape (a stick, piece of wood, etc.) by carving off bits with a knife.
- to form by whittling: to whittle a figure.
- to cut off (a bit).
- to reduce the amount of, as if by whittling; pare down; take away by degrees (usually followed by down, away, etc.): to whittle down the company's overhead; to whittle away one's inheritance.
- to whittle wood or the like with a knife, as in shaping something or as a mere aimless diversion: to spend an afternoon whittling.
- to tire oneself or another by worrying or fussing.
- British Dialect. a knife, especially a large one, as a carving knife or a butcher knife.
Origin of whittle
- Sir Frank,1907–96, English engineer and inventor.
Related Words for whittletrim, shave, pare, erode, lessen, diminish, hew, consume, form, chip, shape, fashion, decrease, carve, model, mold, undermine, sculpt
Examples from the Web for whittle
Contemporary Examples of whittle
Neither Cipriani nor Whittle responded to requests for comment.
In spite of his new entrepreneurial vision, Whittle maintains his good feelings towards the Pacha owners.
How did you whittle all that material into the final shape of the film?Grant Heslov Is the Robin to George Clooney’s Batman
February 7, 2014
Historical Examples of whittle
"Yes; I get a lot of help from you while there's a stick to whittle," replied the smith.In the Midst of Alarms
He taught her to whittle, and how to bear it when she “bleeded.”The Very Small Person
Annie Hamilton Donnell
"Here's my knife; let's whittle some shavings," offered Jack.Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal
G. Harvey Ralphson
P'raps as a sailor lad yuh could whittle out a pair to answer.Darry the Life Saver
Frank V. Webster
Netting is taught, and the soldiers are encouraged to whittle.Five Lectures on Blindness
Kate M. Foley
- to cut or shave strips or pieces from (wood, a stick, etc), esp with a knife
- (tr) to make or shape by paring or shaving
- (tr; often foll by away, down, off, etc) to reduce, destroy, or wear away gradually
- Northern English dialect (intr) to complain or worry about something continually
- British dialect a knife, esp a large one
Word Origin for whittle
- Sir Frank. 1907–96, English engineer, who invented the jet engine for aircraft; flew first British jet aircraft (1941)
Word Origin and History for whittle
1550s, "to cut thin shavings from (something) with a knife," from Middle English whittel "a knife" (c1400), variant of thwittle (late 14c.), from Old English þwitan "to cut," from Proto-Germanic *thwitanan (cf. Old Norse þveita "to hew"). Figurative sense is attested from 1746. Related: Whittled; whittling.
- British aeronautical engineer and inventor who developed the first aircraft engine powered by jet propulsion in 1937.