whittle down

phrasal verb

whittled down; whittling down; whittles down
: to gradually make (something) smaller by removing parts
We whittled the list down to four people.

Examples of whittle down in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The story of the Osage murders, however, is too unwieldy to be whittled down to a central narrative intelligence. Hazlitt, 7 Feb. 2024 Then the International Feature Film Preliminary Committee comes up with a shortlist of nominees, ultimately whittled down by the International Feature Film Nominating Committee, who decides on the final list of nominees. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 6 Feb. 2024 California’s prison system used inappropriate tactics to whittle down a backlog of staff misconduct cases, according to a new special review from the Office of the Inspector General, the state’s prison watchdog agency. Maya Miller, Sacramento Bee, 29 Jan. 2024 Companies that have been whittling down bloated inventories could reverse course and begin ordering more goods to protect themselves against supply disruptions, according to Phil Levy, chief economist for Flexport, a logistics provider. Evan Halper, Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2024 This way, the trucker can keep more of his hauling profits, which would otherwise be whittled down by the official dump fees. Julia Shipley, WIRED, 13 Jan. 2024 In recent weeks, the Republican primary field has been whittled down to just Trump and Haley as the two major 2024 candidates. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 24 Jan. 2024 McDonald’s plans to promote one brand — McCafe — and whittle down the list of equipment suppliers so its coffee is more consistent globally, Sempels said. Dee-Ann Durbin, Fortune, 7 Dec. 2023 Biden took office vowing to whittle down the debt burden on student and graduates. Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Dictionary Entries Near whittle down

Cite this Entry

“Whittle down.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whittle%20down. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on whittle down

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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