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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Right about now, college sports fans are twiddling their thumbs and waiting anxiously for the start of football season just over 60 days away. Rana Cash, The Courier-Journal, "How many football games will Louisville and Kentucky win? See win projections," 26 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about twiddle

Statistics for twiddle

Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for twiddle

The first known use of twiddle was circa 1540

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!