Definition of twiddle in English:

twiddle

Line breaks: twid¦dle
Pronunciation: /ˈtwɪd(ə)l
 
/

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, toy with, fidget with
  • 1.1 [no object] archaic Turn or move in a twirling way.

noun

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  • 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.

Phrases

twiddle one's thumbs

Rotate one’s thumbs round each other with the fingers linked together.
More 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.
Be 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.
Synonyms
have nothing to do, kick one's heels, do nothing, be idle, be unoccupied, sit around, kill time, waste time
informal hang around/round
British informal hang about

Derivatives

twiddler

noun
More 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

adjective (twiddlier, twiddliest)
More 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.

Origin

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

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