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 ?
I would have long stints of me twiddling my thumbs just waiting for friends to clock off so we could meet.
Gary "I can't tell you how frustrating the last three or four weeks have been, I have not sat there twiddling my thumbs wondering whether I'd like to sign another striker or player or not," insisted Rowett.
Shotton and turn valuable the a St 0-0 how frustrating right, we have got but we need and we players to make the given shortcoming they kick on "I remember "I can't tell you how frustrating the last three or four weeks have been, I have not sat there twiddling my thumbs.
I've sat twiddling my thumbs at 9 am on Saturday mornings.
I should be operating now, but am twiddling my thumbs because there aren't enough beds available to bring my patients in to the hospital, " consultant surgeon Tudor Davies told Wales on Sunday.
Johnson said: "For the last couple of weeks I've been sitting at home twiddling my thumbs, so the call from
I would much rather be playing competitive football for the reserves rather than twiddling my thumbs on the bench hoping to get a 15-minute run-out if I'm lucky.
I've been twiddling my thumbs and just waiting around the reserves.
JOE ALLEN quit Liverpool for Stoke to avoid another season "sat twiddling my thumbs on the bench".
I'd rather be at a smaller club playing week-in week-out than at a big club twiddling my thumbs.
Just twiddling my thumbs when I should be doing something useful.