twiddle (one's) thumbs

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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 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 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

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

To do little or nothing; be idle.
See also: thumb, twiddle
References in periodicals archive ?
The First Minister is twiddling her thumbs and focusing all her attention on a referendum on independence that the majority don't want.
Post 'The Voice' talent show, Egyptian singer, Sherine Abdel Wahab, had been twiddling her thumbs, searching for the next big gig.
I fear poor Amy has been left twiddling her thumbs since Brian has developed an odd bedtime routine that is seriously lacking in the romance stakes.
Although keen to carry out other official duties, Kayleigh has since received no requests for her services and has been left largely twiddling her thumbs.
The 39-year-old Aussie is having physio before filming resumes, leaving co-star Renee Zellweger twiddling her thumbs.
An expectant Kat is left twiddling her thumbs and drinking champagne alone while her man becomes tangled up in a strange series of events involving a tramp, a robber and a condom.