be twiddling (one's) thumbs

(redirected from are twiddling their thumbs)

be twiddling (one's) thumbs

To be waiting idly because one cannot take action or has nothing to do at the moment. Although "twiddling one's thumbs" is an actual gesture (in which one's fingers are interlaced and each thumb is brought over the other in succession), the phrase is usually used figuratively. Oh, I'm just twiddling my thumbs in the ER, waiting for someone to give me an update on Claire's condition.
See also: thumb, twiddle

be twiddling your thumbs

If you are twiddling your thumbs, you are waiting with nothing useful to do. I'd far rather be cleaning than twiddling my thumbs waiting for the boys to wake up. There is a lot of team work too and no one is ever left twiddling their thumbs.
See also: thumb, twiddle
References in periodicals archive ?
Contractors are twiddling their thumbs while archaeologists excavate three 2500-year-old houses that were unearthed directly in the way of the road.
Unfortunately, the two state legislators who suddenly find themselves in the power seats are twiddling their thumbs and playing reckless partisan politics.
SENIOR Armed Forces officers are twiddling their thumbs at home because the Defence Ministry can't find them anything to do, the Government revealed last night.