Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

whittle

play
noun whit·tle \ˈhwi-təl, ˈwi-\

Definition of whittle

archaic

  1. :  a large knife



Origin and Etymology of whittle

Middle English whittel, alteration of thwitel, from thwiten to whittle, from Old English thwītan; akin to Old Norse thveita to hew


First Known Use: 15th century


2

whittle

verb whit·tle

Simple Definition of whittle

  • : to cut or shape (a piece of wood) by cutting small pieces from it : to make or shape (something) from a piece of wood by cutting small pieces from it

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of whittle

whittled

whittling

play \ˈhwit-liŋ, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-iŋ, ˈwi-\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to pare or cut off chips from the surface of (wood) with a knife b :  to shape or form by so paring or cutting

  3. 2 :  to reduce, remove, or destroy gradually as if by cutting off bits with a knife :  pare <whittle down expenses>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to cut or shape something (as wood) by or as if by paring it with a knife

  6. 2 :  to wear oneself or another out with fretting

whittler

play \ˈhwit-lər, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-ər, ˈwi-\ noun

Examples of whittle in a sentence

  1. He was sitting on the porch, whittling a stick.

  2. She whittled a walking stick from a maple tree branch.



1552

First Known Use of whittle

1552



WHITTLE Defined for Kids

whittle

play
verb whit·tle \ˈhwi-təl, ˈwi-\

Definition of whittle for Students

whittled

whittling

  1. 1 :  to cut or shave off chips from wood :  shape by cutting or shaving off chips from wood

  2. 2 :  to reduce little by little <They are trying to whittle down their spending.>




Learn More about whittle


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up whittle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to criticize in a loud and angry way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

melancholy philistine frenetic lazy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ