whittle

noun
whit·​tle | \ ˈhwi-tᵊl How to pronounce whittle (audio) , ˈwi-\

Definition of whittle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

archaic
: a large knife

whittle

verb
whittled; whittling\ ˈhwit-​liŋ How to pronounce whittling (audio) , ˈwit-​ ; ˈhwi-​tᵊl-​iŋ , ˈwi-​ \

Definition of whittle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to pare or cut off chips from the surface of (wood) with a knife
b : to shape or form by so paring or cutting
2 : to reduce, remove, or destroy gradually as if by cutting off bits with a knife : pare whittle down expenses

intransitive verb

1 : to cut or shape something (such as wood) by or as if by paring it with a knife
2 : to wear oneself or another out with fretting

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Other Words from whittle

Verb

whittler \ ˈhwit-​lər How to pronounce whittler (audio) , ˈwit-​ ; ˈhwi-​tᵊl-​ər , ˈwi-​ \ noun

Examples of whittle in a Sentence

Verb

He was sitting on the porch, whittling a stick. She whittled a walking stick from a maple tree branch.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Whittle fed Hartshorn and then scored back-to-back free-position goals, including her 200th career goal. Katherine Dunn, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland women hold off Johns Hopkins, 19-16, to advance to Big Ten final," 5 May 2017 Whittle down the big idea, ratchet it up a notch, and repeat to a beat—fight the power, and imagine all the people living life in peace, because God is a d.j. Matthew Trammell, The New Yorker, "Polarized Punks," 7 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hailing from France, Fitz wrote more than 80 songs for the new album before whittling it down to the 17 that made the cut. Trevor Fraser, orlandosentinel.com, "Fitz & the Tantrums strive for positivity in new tour heading for Orlando Amphitheater," 17 July 2019 And even a nominating convention failed to whittle it down all that much. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "It’ll be a crowded race for open Ramsey County Board seat — and everyone’s talking TCAAP," 20 June 2019 The selloff has whittled away at some of the stretched valuations that had worried investors this year. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Utility Stocks Decline Even as Stocks Rally," 26 Dec. 2018 Each year, the community whittles down a May Queen through an intense endurance challenge, where dance marathon meets ancient ritual. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "How Midsommar's May Queen Scene Connects To A Real Swedish Legend," 5 July 2019 By Thursday, Conservative lawmakers will have whittled the list of candidates to a final two. Max Colchester, WSJ, "U.K.’s Boris Johnson Strengthens Lead in Conservative Party Race," 18 June 2019 First, MPs whittle down the candidates in successive votes until there are just two left. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "The UK Conservative party has lost its bloody mind (fiscally speaking)," 13 June 2019 Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, and Howie may whittle the acts down, but the fate of the show lies in the hands of voters once the live shows begin. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Here's the Actual Reason 'AGT' Has So Many Singers on the Show," 11 June 2019 Suddenly, Central Missouri had awoken from a deep deficit and whittled Colorado Mesa’s lead to 6-5 in Monday evening’s Division II College World Series quarterfinals. Greg Woods, kansascity, "Central Missouri’s rally falls short in 6-5 loss to Colorado Mesa at DII World Series," 3 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whittle.' 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 whittle

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1552, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for whittle

Noun

Middle English whittel, alteration of thwitel, from thwiten to whittle, from Old English thwītan; akin to Old Norse thveita to hew

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Time Traveler for whittle

The first known use of whittle was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for whittle

whittle

verb

English Language Learners 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

whittle

verb
whit·​tle | \ ˈhwi-tᵊl How to pronounce whittle (audio) , ˈwi-\
whittled; whittling

Kids Definition of whittle

1 : to cut or shave off chips from wood : shape by cutting or shaving off chips from wood
2 : to reduce little by little They are trying to whittle down their spending.

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More from Merriam-Webster on whittle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whittle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whittle

Spanish Central: Translation of whittle

Nglish: Translation of whittle for Spanish Speakers

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