Definition of twiddle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtwɪd(ə)l/


[with object]
1Twist, move, or fiddle with (something), typically in a purposeless or nervous way: she twiddled the dials on the radio [no object]: he began twiddling with the curtain cord
More example sentences
  • My dad started, twiddling his fingers nervously.
  • I slouch down in my seat, twiddling my fingers nervously.
  • She was nervously twiddling a pen between her fingers.
turn, twist, swivel, twirl, adjust, move, jiggle;
1.1 [no object] archaic Turn or move in a twirling way.


1An act of twisting or fiddling with something: one twiddle of a button
More example sentences
  • The evolutionists just give the knobs of the ‘mechanism’ a twiddle here and there to ‘explain’ the data.
  • With darker or lighter, this is easily done at the twiddle of a knob.
1.1A twisted or curled mark or design: twiddles and twirls
More example sentences
  • The table is short of curlicues and twiddles and fancy bits.
1.2A rapid or intricate series of musical notes: gay little twiddles from the clarinet
More example sentences
  • In the anteroom, little knots of people emit a cacophony of twangs and twiddles while, in the adjacent baronial hall, by a framed portrait of our hero, Dickie Speake's band is limbering up.


twiddle one's thumbs

Rotate one’s thumbs round each other with the fingers linked together.
Example sentences
  • ‘Well, you followed me,’ Trent pointed out with a smile, twiddling his thumbs together as he made himself more comfortable on the ground.
  • ‘He says some b-b-bad things to me sometimes,’ Jamie said twiddling his thumbs together nervously.
  • She began twiddling her thumbs together and staring at the wall ahead of her.
1.1Be bored or idle because one has nothing to do: I have been sitting here for goodness knows how long twiddling my thumbs
More example sentences
  • Everyone sat around looking embarrassed and twiddling their thumbs as usual.
  • If I didn't come here in the night, I'd be sitting around at home, twiddling my thumbs and thinking about going to a real bar.
  • All that sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and pretty soon even the dishes seemed like an interesting option.
have nothing to do, kick one's heels, do nothing, be idle, be unoccupied, sit around, kill time, waste time
British informal hang about



Example sentences
  • The production is functional but uninspiring, the knob - twiddlers unwilling to sail into any waters that might look dangerous or - perish the thought - exciting.
  • Every single news organisation is critical of him and his band of thumb twiddlers.
  • The result is a very creative album that effectively blends the sounds of two obviously talented knob twiddlers - experts, even.


Pronunciation: /ˈtwɪd(ə)li/
adjective (twiddlier, twiddliest)
Example sentences
  • Could you just sing the tune of the hymn rather than the hundred and fifty-seven little twiddly bits?
  • I had a peek at the control panel on the camera while the radiologist was out looking at the first set of snaps: huge, chunky, twiddly dials that looked as though they came from the first nuclear power plant.
  • He can get a bit boring, because over and over again, it's the same tune with more twiddly bits.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'trifle'): apparently imitative, combining the notion twirl or twist with that of trifling action expressed by fiddle.

  • tweed from mid 19th century:

    Tweed was originally produced in Scotland, where it was called tweel, a Scots form of twill (Middle English), a word based on two and like twine (Old English) indicating two-ply yarn. Around 1830 a cloth merchant misread this as tweed, a mistake perpetuated by association with the River Tweed, part of which forms the border between England and Scotland. Tweed is traditionally worn by the English country gentry, and tweedy has been used since the early 20th century to suggest a robust, traditional kind of Englishness.

Words that rhyme with twiddle

fiddle, griddle, kiddle, Liddell, middle, piddle, riddle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: twid¦dle

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