Origin of whittling
- 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
Related Words for whittlingtrim, shave, pare, erode, lessen, diminish, hew, consume, form, chip, shape, fashion, decrease, carve, model, mold, undermine, sculpt
Examples from the Web for whittling
Historical Examples of whittling
No; and they were whittling, making a boat, and couldn't be bothered.
But the whittling keeps his hands and eyes busy, and steadies his nerves.Ben Comee
M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
He snailed over his whittling as we laughed heartily at the droll effect of it all.
He was whittling as he considered a challenge from Tip Taylor to shoot a match.
Some were whittling, some making aimless marks in the dust with a stick.The Panchronicon
Harold Steele Mackaye
- 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.