Share this entry

Share this page

twiddle

Syllabification: twid·dle
Pronunciation: /ˈtwidl
 
/

Definition of twiddle in English:

verb

[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.
Synonyms
turn, twist, swivel, twirl;
adjust, move, jiggle;
fiddle with, play with
1.1 [no object] archaic Turn or move in a twirling way.

noun

Back to top  
An 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.

Origin

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

Phrases

twiddle one's thumbs

1
Rotate one’s thumbs around 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.
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.
Synonyms
be idle, do nothing, kill time, waste time, hang around, stand/sit around
informal futz around

Derivatives

twiddler

1
Pronunciation: /ˈtwidlər, ˈtwidl-ər/
noun
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.

twiddly

2
Pronunciation: /ˈtwidlē, ˈtwidl-ē/
adjective
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.

Definition of twiddle in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day jaunt
Pronunciation: jônt
noun
a short excursion or journey for pleasure