- to cut or pare thin shavings from (wood) with a knife
- to make or fashion (an object) in this manner
- to reduce, destroy, or get rid of gradually, as if by whittling away with a knife: usually with down, away, etc.: to whittle down the cost of a project
Origin of whittle; from obsolete whittle, a knife ; from Middle English whyttel, variant, variety of thwitel, diminutive ; from Old English thwitan, to cut ; from Indo-European base an unverified form twei-, to strike, cut
verbwhit·tled, whit·tling, whit·tles
- a. To cut small bits or pare shavings from (a piece of wood).b. To fashion or shape in this way: whittle a toy boat.
- To reduce or eliminate gradually: whittled down the debt by making small payments.
Origin of whittleFrom Middle English whyttel, knife, variant of thwitel, from thwiten, to whittle, from Old English thw&imacron;tan, to strike, whittle down.
- A knife; especially, a pocket knife, sheath knife, or clasp knife.
(third-person singular simple present whittles, present participle whittling, simple past and past participle whittled)
From Middle English whittel (“large knife"), an alteration of thwitel, itself from thwiten (“to whittle"), from Old English thwitan. Compare Old Norse Ã¾veita (“to hurl")
- (archaic) A coarse greyish double blanket worn by countrywomen, in the west of England, over the shoulders, like a cloak or shawl.
- (archaic) A whittle shawl; a kind of fine woollen shawl, originally and especially a white one.
From an Old English word for "white"; akin to an Icelandic word for a white bedcover.