[ hwit-ling, wit- ]
/ ˈʰwɪt lɪŋ, ˈwɪt- /


the act of a person who whittles.
Often whittlings. a bit or chip whittled off.

Origin of whittling

First recorded in 1605–15; whittle + -ing1

Definition for whittling (2 of 2)


[ hwit-l, wit-l ]
/ ˈʰwɪt l, ˈwɪt l /

verb (used with object), whit·tled, whit·tling.

verb (used without object), whit·tled, whit·tling.

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

1375–1425; late Middle English (noun), dialectal variant of thwitel knife, Old English thwīt(an) to cut + -el -le

Related forms

whit·tler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whittling

British Dictionary definitions for whittling (1 of 2)


/ (ˈwɪtəl) /


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

Derived Forms

whittler, noun

Word Origin for whittle

C16: variant of C15 thwittle large knife, from Old English thwitel, from thwītan to cut; related to Old Norse thveitr cut, thveita to beat

British Dictionary definitions for whittling (2 of 2)


/ (ˈwɪtəl) /


Sir Frank. 1907–96, English engineer, who invented the jet engine for aircraft; flew first British jet aircraft (1941)
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

Science definitions for whittling


[ wĭtl ]
Sir Frank 1907-1996

British aeronautical engineer and inventor who developed the first aircraft engine powered by jet propulsion in 1937.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.