- 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
Examples from the Web for whittler
Historical Examples of whittler
Yates sat on the top rail of the fence with the whittler, whose guest he had been.
The whittler and Yates got down from the bench, and joined the crowd outside.
He had expected to find an Earth similar to the one described in Whittler's book.The Status Civilization
"Nothing truer than that," returned the whittler, brushing the litter from his lap.Bad Hugh
Mary Jane Holmes
Too much of a poet, I hope, to imagine myself more than a whittler of reeds!There and Back
- 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)
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.