Definition of twiddle in English:

twiddle

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Twist, move, or fiddle with (something), typically in a purposeless or nervous way.

    ‘she twiddled the dials on the radio’
    no object ‘he began twiddling with the curtain cord’
    • ‘I slouch down in my seat, twiddling my fingers nervously.’
    • ‘He moved his hands in front of his face and started twiddling his fingers.’
    • ‘He twiddled a button on the collar of his navy blue shirt.’
    • ‘Melanie dropped her bags and twiddled her fingers nervously.’
    • ‘He mumbled, twiddling his fingers like a young and nervous child.’
    • ‘If I'd been wearing a tie, I'd have started twiddling it and doing slow burns to an unseen camera.’
    • ‘Remixing sometimes sounds like twiddling the radio tuner rapidly through different stations.’
    • ‘It was enough to leave reporters twiddling their pens, looking for answers, perhaps from a higher source.’
    • ‘She was nervously twiddling a pen between her fingers.’
    • ‘Pachinko is a vertical pinball game where one feeds little steel balls into the top of the machine, and tries to manipulate their passage down the machine by twiddling a knob, in order to win… more balls.’
    • ‘‘This is what I normally do,’ he says, twiddling his locks to show the effect he's after.’
    • ‘He tweaks a knob, he twiddles a dial, he hits a button, and the noise changes on his command.’
    • ‘I don't want to see any more square-headed blokes twiddling knobs.’
    • ‘She nervously twiddled her fingers together, looking completely uncomfortable.’
    • ‘I made her a hat out of some really fuzzy, soft yarn, and watched as she reached up to rip it off… and then stopped, and just kept twiddling it between thumb and fingers.’
    • ‘She looked down at her podium and nervously twiddled her fingers.’
    • ‘We are on the balls of our feet, like tennis players awaiting service, anxiously twiddling our sticks.’
    • ‘The short and jittery teacher was always twiddling his hands annoyingly, stuttering when he spoke and nervously rocking back and forth, as he stood.’
    • ‘Their natural sense of adventure and competitiveness is channelled into ‘action’ computer games - although all the action involved is sitting on your bum, twiddling your fingers.’
    • ‘My dad started, twiddling his fingers nervously.’
    turn, twist, swivel, twirl, adjust, move, jiggle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic no object Turn or move in a twirling way.

noun

  • An act of twisting or fiddling with something.

    ‘one twiddle of a button’
    • ‘The evolutionists just give the knobs of the ‘mechanism’ a twiddle here and there to ‘explain’ the data.’
    • ‘With darker or lighter, this is easily done at the twiddle of a knob.’

Phrases

  • twiddle one's thumbs

    • 1Rotate one's thumbs around each other with the fingers linked together.

      • ‘My father looked to the ground and twiddled his thumbs against each other.’
      • ‘‘Well, you followed me,’ Trent pointed out with a smile, twiddling his thumbs together as he made himself more comfortable on the ground.’
      • ‘The Banshee sighs as she twiddles her thumbs around each other.’
      • ‘To my surprise, she was actually twiddling her thumbs while looking around herself, a politely bored expression on her face.’
      • ‘He perched on the edge of the seat twiddling his thumbs while gazing around the room.’
      • ‘She began twiddling her thumbs together and staring at the wall ahead of her.’
      • ‘‘He says some b-b-bad things to me sometimes,’ Jamie said twiddling his thumbs together nervously.’
      • ‘The General looked around quite nervously, twiddling his thumbs behind his back.’
      • ‘The twenty-year-old twiddled his thumbs in front of him as he walked around and around.’
      • ‘Brooke stopped twiddling her thumbs, and pressed their tips together.’
      1. 1.1Be bored or idle because one has nothing to do.
        • ‘If I didn't come here in the night, I'd be sitting around at home, twiddling my thumbs and thinking about going to a real bar.’
        • ‘The worst thing you can do is retire and then just sit around and twiddle your thumbs.’
        • ‘Everyone sat around looking embarrassed and twiddling their thumbs as usual.’
        • ‘Another friend said: ‘Anyone who knows Mike knows that the one thing he won't do in prison is sit around and twiddle his thumbs.’’
        • ‘But don't think for a second Harris is going to sit around twiddling his thumbs.’
        • ‘But scientists, if they are to remain any good at what they do, have to keep on doing it - they can't just wait around twiddling their thumbs for five years and still be able to put together a credible bid.’
        • ‘He and I are alike; we yearn for something we cannot find by sitting around, twiddling our thumbs.’
        • ‘All that sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and pretty soon even the dishes seemed like an interesting option.’
        • ‘Instead of twiddling your thumbs and letting frustration get the best of you, why not hit the road and discover the hidden treasures of the Vigie Peninsula?’
        • ‘He's hardly the kind to sit around twiddling his thumbs.’
        have nothing to do, kick one's heels, do nothing, be idle, be unoccupied, sit around, kill time, waste time
        View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘trifle’): apparently imitative, combining the notion twirl or twist with that of trifling action expressed by fiddle.

Pronunciation

twiddle

/ˈtwidl//ˈtwɪdl/