Whittled down the debt by making small payments.
To whittle down the cost of a project.
Origin of whittle
- From Middle English whyttel knife variant of thwitel from thwiten to whittle from Old English thwītan to strike, whittle down
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- 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")
- From an Old English word for "white"; akin to an Icelandic word for a white bedcover.