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twiddle one's thumbs

Fig. to pass the time by twirling one's thumbs. What am I supposed to do while waiting for you? Sit here and twiddle my thumbs? Don't sit around twiddling your thumbs. Get busy!
See also: thumb, twiddle
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

twiddle one's thumbs

Be bored or idle, as in There I sat for three hours, twiddling my thumbs, while he made call after call. This expression alludes to the habit of idly turning one's thumbs about one another during a period of inactivity. [Mid-1800s]
See also: thumb, twiddle
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

twiddle (one's) thumbs

To do little or nothing; be idle.
See also: thumb, twiddle
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

twiddle one's thumbs, to

To be bored; to be idle. The habit of idly turning one’s thumbs about each other during a period of enforced inactivity gave rise to this cliché, which began life in the mid-nineteenth century. “You’d have all the world do nothing . . . but twiddle its thumbs,” wrote Douglas Jerrold (Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures, 1846).
See also: twiddle
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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