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

whittle

play
noun whit·tle \ˈhwi-təl, ˈwi-\

Definition of whittle

archaic

  1. :  a large knife



Origin 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

Full Definition of whittle

whit·tledwhit·tling 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

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

Examples of whittle

  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



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

February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ