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

Definition of twiddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to play negligently with something : fiddle
2 : to turn or jounce lightly twiddles round and round in the water— J. B. S. Haldane

transitive verb

: to rotate lightly or idly twiddled his pen
twiddle one's thumbs
: to spend time idly : do nothing



Definition of twiddle (Entry 2 of 2)

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But over time, higher prices cause less demand from riders and more supply of drivers, so drivers end up spending more of their time twiddling their thumbs waiting for a gig, leaving hourly earnings little changed. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "Maybe We’re Not All Going to Be Gig Economy Workers After All," 15 Sep. 2019 Mylan is a reminder that Allergan can’t twiddle its thumbs forever. Washington Post, "Epipen Parent’s Faceplant Is a Cautionary Tale for Botox Maker," 9 May 2019 Playing regular football week-in week-out has got to be up there with the most exciting careers someone can have, but what about some of the other roles that simply don't cut the mustard, leaving you twiddling your thumbs to the point of exhaustion?, "5 of the Dullest Jobs in Football After Costa Rica Boss Cites 'Boredom' for Departure," 8 Sep. 2019 For the second year in a row, Allen and other Chignik fishermen have mostly been left to twiddle their thumbs. Alex Hager, Anchorage Daily News, "Chignik Bay is ‘hanging by a thread’ after a second year of scant fishing," 3 Aug. 2019 With the second Ashes Test delayed by the typically rainy English summer, both sets of players will be sat twiddling their thumbs in their dressing rooms trying to think of conversations to take the edge off of the excruciating tension., "The Ashes: The Cricketers Who Are Also Huge Football Fans," 14 Aug. 2019 Most were operated by someone twiddling joysticks at a safe distance. The Economist, "Cleaning up nuclear waste is an obvious task for robots," 20 June 2019 The England legend then has an extra 100 seconds to organise and galvanise his troops, whilst the Qatari players twiddle their thumbs, losing all of their momentum, and handing England the greatest trophy on Earth, Sounds ridiculous, right?, "5 Weird and Wonderful Laws From Other Sports That Should Be Implemented in Football," 31 July 2019 Bacteria have an unfortunate — and inaccurate — public image as isolated cells twiddling about on microscope slides. Quanta Magazine, "Bacteria Use Brainlike Bursts of Electricity to Communicate," 5 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pilots sit behind a modern avionic dashboard and twiddle control sticks to direct advanced, swiveling engines. Andrew Van Dam,, "The blimp industry is changing, right over our noses," 12 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'twiddle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of twiddle


circa 1540, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1774, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for twiddle


origin unknown

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Time Traveler for twiddle

Time Traveler

The first known use of twiddle was circa 1540

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Statistics for twiddle

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Twiddle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc.,'s%20thumbs. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for twiddle


How to pronounce twiddle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of twiddle

: to turn (something) back and forth slightly


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

Kids Definition of twiddle

: twirl entry 1 I twiddled my thumbs.

More from Merriam-Webster on twiddle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with twiddle

Nglish: Translation of twiddle for Spanish Speakers

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