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

But that number has been whittled by the defections, with USA Basketball now looking to add players such as Smart for training camp, which is scheduled to open in Las Vegas in early August. Adam Himmelsbach, BostonGlobe.com, "Celtics guard Marcus Smart accepts invitation to USA basketball training camp," 22 July 2019 The original budget for the games in Birmingham was $75 million, but has since been whittled down to $48 million -- still a significant amount of money to be raised in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area, which has a population of about 1.4 million. Anna Beahm | Abeahm@al.com, al.com, "21 things you need to know about the 2021 World Games in Birmingham," 21 July 2019 Over the years, the record for solving the cube has been gradually whittled down to near-superhuman speeds. The Economist, "Speedcubers are solving Rubik’s Cubes at ever-faster speeds," 11 July 2019 The race has been whittled down to these four candidates. latimes.com, "Today: The Storm Over Trump's 5G Plan," 20 June 2019 The ascent stage had started off as a sphere, then been whittled down, then been added to. Oliver Morton, WIRED, "The Beauty and Madness of Sending a Man to the Moon," 4 June 2019 After more than a month of interviews, the CISD Board of Trustees is ready to name a lone finalist-whittled down from 25 candidates-to replace superintendent Don Stockton, who announced his retirement in August. Marialuisa Rincon, Houston Chronicle, "Conroe ISD to name superintendent finalist Tuesday," 17 Mar. 2018 In other words, these waist-whittling, hip-minimizing sky blue pants are the best style and mood pick-me-up. Redbook, "TV Personality Tamron Hall Shows You How to Have Outfits For Days," 20 Sep. 2017 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

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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