One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘I was toying with the idea of writing a book’
think idly about, play with, flirt with, trifle with, entertain the possibility of, consider, have thoughts about, argue the pros and cons of
informal kick about, kick around
2‘he had been toying with her that day on the river’
flirt with, dally with, sport with, play with, amuse oneself with, trifle with, fool with
3‘she could only toy with her food’
fidget with, play with, play about with, play around with, fiddle with, fiddle about with, fiddle around with, fool about with, fool around with, tinker with, finger, twiddle, twiddle with
nibble, pick at, gnaw, gnaw at, peck at, pick over, eat listlessly, eat like a bird
informal mess about with, mess around with
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