whittle

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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 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 ?
There will also be a whittling contest from 1 to 3 p.
First published in 1930, The Art of Whittling is a classic introduction to the hobby of woodcrafting through whittling.