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)

: turn, twist

Examples of twiddle in a Sentence


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

Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are waiting for teams to stop twiddling their thumbs. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "NBA Stars Are Upending Basketball. Baseball’s Best Players Are Unemployed.," 6 Feb. 2019 In my experience, OpenVPN and IPSec tunnels generally require somewhere between eight seconds and 30+ seconds to establish a tunnel, during which time the user must twiddle his or her thumbs and stare uncertainly at a very techy-looking dialog. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Testing WireGuard with an early-adopter VPN service," 11 Dec. 2018 The agents sat in bars and cafés twiddling their thumbs over smartphones. Karan Mahajan, The New Republic, "After the Strongman," 26 Mar. 2018 Her mother had advanced cancer and Distant was twiddling her thumbs overseas, judging her mother’s health-care choices from her remote perch. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Girl pressed for nude photo should wear T-shirt, instead," 14 June 2018 Rocklin residents eager to enjoy the attractions promised by Quarry Park Adventures will have to twiddle their thumbs a bit longer – again. Kellen Browning, sacbee, "Quarry Park Adventures again delays opening, needs another $1 million," 14 June 2018 With only a first-round pick in the rounds 1-3, the normally active Roseman might be hard-pressed to twiddle his thumbs for two rounds. Jeff Mclane,, "Who are the most likely candidates from the Eagles' roster to be traded during the draft?," 23 Apr. 2018 With all of those projects — and raising four children, with a fifth on the way — the Gaineses aren't exactly sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "What Is Chip And Joanna Gaines's Net Worth?," 25 Apr. 2018 The Eleven didn't twiddle their thumbs waiting around to open the scoring. Kevin Johnson, Indianapolis Star, "Soony Saad carries Indy Eleven to first win at Lucas Oil Stadium," 14 Apr. 2018

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

The first known use of twiddle was circa 1540

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More Definitions for twiddle



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

Comments on twiddle

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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