twiddle

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Related to twiddled: twiddle thumbs

be twiddling (one's) thumbs

To be waiting idly because one cannot take action or has nothing to do at the moment. Although the phrase refers to 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. I was twiddling my thumbs and minding my own business when the security guard asked me if I had permission to be there.
See also: thumb, twiddle

twiddle (one's) thumbs

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

twiddle with (someone)

To play with something in one's hands idly, especially by turning it over or around repeatedly; to fiddle with something. She has this annoying habit of twiddling with her necklace whenever she's speaking. Stop twiddling with that cathode, or you'll end up breaking it!
See also: twiddle

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

twiddle with something

to play with something; to play with something, using one's fingers; to fiddle with something. I asked Jason to stop twiddling with the pencils. Someone is twiddling with the stereo controls.
See also: twiddle

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

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

twiddle your thumbs

be bored or idle because you have nothing to do.
See also: thumb, twiddle

ˌtwiddle your ˈthumbs

(informal) do nothing while you are waiting for something to happen: I had to sit at home twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the phone to ring.
If you twiddle your thumbs, you move them around each other while your fingers are joined together.
See also: thumb, twiddle

twiddle one’s thumbs

tv. to do nothing; to wait nervously, playing with one’s fingers. I sat twiddling my thumbs while you were out doing I don’t know what all!
See also: thumb, twiddle

twiddle (one's) thumbs

To do little or nothing; be idle.
See also: thumb, twiddle

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
References in periodicals archive ?
So I wiped the smile from my face, uncrossed my legs, stood up, left, got lost in London, twiddled my thumbs on the London underground, twiddled my thumbs on the train back to Scotland...
Thus even reputedly conservative state attorneys general came to join the tobacco litigation, fearful perhaps of being blamed should a settlement enrich other states while they twiddled their thumbs.
For example, how many times have you commanded a spreadsheet file to print its 56 pages and then twiddled your thumbs, unable to do anything else on the machine while waiting for the last page to come out of the printer?
When a disordered child is twiddling, either hold his or her hand or the object being twiddled. The child often looks at the person who interrupts the twiddling.
Blues had the chance to sign Paul Scharner in the summer but twiddled their thumbs and lost out.
The old ten-inch cast iron main fractured on Sunday night, briefly affecting about 2,500 people in the Marton area before Northumbrian Water "twiddled the valves" to bring in supply from another pipe system.
DEALERS twiddled their thumbs today and the FTSE ended virtually unchanged down 0.05 per cent at 4330.3.