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twid·​dle ˈtwi-dᵊl How to pronounce twiddle (audio)
twiddled; twiddling ˈtwid-liŋ How to pronounce twiddle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to play negligently with something : fiddle
: to turn or jounce lightly
twiddles round and round in the waterJ. B. S. Haldane

transitive verb

: to rotate lightly or idly
twiddled his pen


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: turn, twist
twiddle one's thumbs
: to spend time idly : do nothing

Examples of twiddle in a Sentence

Verb Just twiddle the dial on the radio a bit for better reception. Twiddle the knob on the telescope until things are in focus. She twiddled her pen while she talked on the phone. She twiddled with her pen while she talked on the phone.
Recent Examples on the Web
Such old-style trickery is, so to speak, nothing new; for some self-regarding auteurs, twiddling with aspect ratios has become a formalist signature. Justin Chang, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2024 Like many of his contemporaries, Upton, who holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Cambridge and had already founded two software companies, owed his career to a childhood spent twiddling bits. IEEE Spectrum, 28 Feb. 2015 After photos are taken in those apps, the user typically dives into editing, twiddling the image with seemingly endless tools using artificial intelligence and computational photography functions. David Bloom, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Garry Monteiro pauses and looks down, twiddling his thumbs. Troy Aidan Sambajon, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Feb. 2024 Instead of twiddling your thumbs or doomscrolling on TikTok, why not explore some of the region’s most iconic hikes? Krista Simmons, Sunset Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024 Still, the Peninsula, known for its fleet of 14 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, isn’t twiddling its thumbs. Christopher Cameron, Robb Report, 12 Nov. 2023 After three weeks of race fans twiddling their thumbs, reading books and making TikTok videos of bottles matching up to each driver, the 2023 F1 calendar resumes with the Dutch Grand Prix. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 26 Aug. 2023 There is a bee twiddling its legs on the moonlit dashboard of Bill Crawford’s pickup. Krista Stevens, Longreads, 9 Aug. 2023
Crucially, in the new scheme, all inputs and outputs between simulations of different scales must be consistent, leaving fewer dials to twiddle. Thomas Lewton, Quanta Magazine, 23 Aug. 2022 Pilots sit behind a modern avionic dashboard and twiddle control sticks to direct advanced, swiveling engines. Andrew Van Dam,, 12 June 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'twiddle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



origin unknown

First Known Use


circa 1540, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1774, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of twiddle was circa 1540

Dictionary Entries Near twiddle

Cite this Entry

“Twiddle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


twiddled; twiddling
: to rotate lightly or idly
twiddle one's thumbs

More from Merriam-Webster on twiddle

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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