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Related to twiddling: Bit twiddling

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

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

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 ?
He had been twiddling it around his finger and accepted people would have been frightened.
If, as the BMA claim, there is a shortage of GPs, who exactly is responsible for referring the many patients to the consultants, who are twiddling their thumbs due to the lack of beds?
Just back from an early morning celebrity auction at Chicago's Planet Hollywood that raised nearly $70,000 for the foundation in his name, Woods is now twiddling with a golf club in a corporate suite inside the Four Seasons Hotel high above Lake Michigan.
If the average cable operator is anything like mine, that housesitter's going to be twiddling his thumbs on the employee's living room couch until the first Tuesday before Armageddon.
Not only does the law assume that business can never be trusted, but during the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan's Environmental Protection Agency was twiddling its thumbs, Congress passed a number of statutes that assume regulators cannot be trusted either.
My period of doing computer simulations and twiddling knobs is over now.
Finally, "General Release," a show organized by the British Council to present the work of yet another group of young British artists, includes a video image of a pair of twiddling thumbs - a fitting image for an art scene passing time while waiting for clarity, a whole generation of artists inching forward, fearful of making a mistake.
Aye, there's nothing worse than having a load of gamers sat round twiddling their thumbs.
It's just as well, too, or host Jason Manford would be spending the next hour twiddling his thumbs and talking about the weather.
Do they have a conviction on any policy or do they simply pursue a policy of habitual flip-flopping, and/or do they simply sit at home twiddling their thumbs waiting for the extremely generous salary and expenses cheque to arrive?
You have had people sitting in the canteen twiddling their thumbs; there was nothing to do.
Former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins calls our bluff with textbook rock and roll nostalgia, shamelessly plundering riffs from AC/DC, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Queen, then adding helium vocals and baroque guitar twiddling.
As Moyes added, thousands of Everton fans had travelled to the game and wouldn't have expected to see him standing on the touchline twiddling his thumbs while the referee made a decision he later admitted to getting badly wrong.
Making this nosegay was for 44 years the job of a wartime "knob-twiddler", whose twiddling had been part of Britain's advance airraid system.