whittle away


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Related to whittle away: whittle down

whittle something away

to cut or carve something away. The carver whittled the wood away until only a small figure was left. He whittled away the wood.
See also: away, whittle

whittle away

v.
1. To undermine, reduce, or weaken something by small increments until completely gone or useless: The long climb up the mountain whittled away his strength. We whittled their lead away with a series of small gains.
2. To weaken or be gradually reduced by small increments: My courage whittled away with each step forward I took.
3. To eliminate something by whittling it: The carpenter whittled the excess wood away. The sculptor whittled away the clay until a perfect form emerged.
4. To whittle continuously: They whittled away until they had finished carving their sticks into spoons.
See also: away, whittle
References in periodicals archive ?
With Unicenter TNG, we can continuously improve service delivery as we whittle away at any and all economic inefficiencies.
Bush stopped Friday at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to tout his efforts to whittle away at a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog at national parks.
He suggests that, being a surface protein, the antibody's target site might be the first in a cascade of reactions that eventually whittle away beta cells.
Senior budget analyst Bert Bigler told county supervisors Tuesday that revenue from past years could be used this year to whittle away at the last of the shortfall that remained after heavy administrative belt tightening and a $2 million infusion of tobacco funds.
The screenwriter, he continues, ``has to delve into that mess and find that subplot you started with, and whittle away all those characters you created because you needed to fill eight pages.
As the Clippers saw their 13-point halftime lead whittle away, Brand was seeing shades of the Utah road loss - and the Portland road loss and the Golden State home loss.
Xavier Caro handled questions about his earlier testimony as attorneys defending his estranged wife against murder charges tried to whittle away at his credibility.
After the break, the Matadors continued to whittle away at the lead before finally earning their first tie of the contest at 61 on a Greg Minor 3-pointer with 8:55 left in the game.
As you wrap up your financial affairs for the year, take note of new or improved state tax credits to whittle away your tax bill for 1998, according to the California Franchise Tax Board.