whittle

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Related to whittles: whittles away, whittling down

whittle at something

to cut or carve at something. He just sat there, whittling at a chunk of wood. I am not carving anything, I am just whittling at some wood.
See also: whittle

whittle someone down to size

Fig. to reduce someone's ego; to cause someone to have better, more respectful behavior. (Fig. on whittle something down (to size).) After a few days at camp, the counselors had whittled young Walter down to size. It took some doing, but they whittled him down to size.
See also: down, size, whittle

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 something down (to size)

 and whittle something down
to cut or diminish something to a more appropriate size or to the proper size. I whittled the peg down to size and it fit in the hole perfectly. You are going to have to whittle down expenses.
See also: down, whittle

whittle something out of something

to carve something out of something. The young man whittled a small boat out of wood. Can you whittle an elephant out of this chunk of wood?
See also: of, out, whittle

whittle something down

also whittle something away
to gradually reduce or destroy something By halftime our team's lead had been whittled down to only two points. College is so expensive, after two years, my college fund has been whittled away to almost nothing.
Usage notes: also used in the form whittle away at something: Over the past year, we've whittled away at our debts.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of whittle (to shape a piece of wood by cutting strips or small pieces from it with a knife)
See also: down, 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

whittle down

v.
1. To reduce the size of some piece of wood by cutting small bits or paring shavings: I whittled down the pencil's tip to expose more lead. I bit nervously on my pencil until I had whittled it down to nothing.
2. To reduce something gradually, as if by whittling with a knife: The couple whittled down their debt by making small payments. We whittled the other team's lead down to one point with a series of small gains.
See also: down, whittle

whittled

mod. alcohol intoxicated; filled with liquor. (see also cut.) Fred’s whittled again and shouldn’t drive home.
See also: whittle
References in periodicals archive ?
Peter Whittle, who had worked there from 1948 and was a joint managing director with his brother Alan, used his share of the business to launch Peters.
Peter's father Ernest Whittle had been a joint managing director of Kayes until his death in 1976.
RETAIL GENERATIONS: David and Caroline Whittle of Peters, King Street (above).
Retired Mr Whittle, 68, tried to help his wife but lorry driver Freeburn, 34, punched him twice in the head.
Mr Whittle broke away and headed for his wife, who was lying motionless and turning purple.
Mrs Whittle, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, was rushed to the nearby Royal Infirmary but pronounced dead around 50 minutes after the attack.
Mr Whittle said the store had also received about 50 emails from people saying what they would like to see on sale.
Mr Whittle said the suggestions would be among topics for discussions tomorrow when the partners hold their first formal meeting since buying the business last Monday.
Mrs Whittle had hardening of three arteries which caused her to have a heart attack due to "emotional and physical stress".
The court heard Mrs Whittle was attacked minutes after arriving at the Blochairn market in Glasgow on August 15 last year.
Mr Whittle said the couple had been joined in the new company by a third partner with vast experience in retailing.
Mr Whittle said the first step would be to clear stock bought by the administrators while they were running things and re-stock the store for a summer sale offering customers "quality merchandise at fantastic prices".
Mr Whittle said: "We are talking to customers about what they want to see.