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 ?
IF you're twiddling your thumbs between Christmas and New Year, how about getting to grips with your garden kit?
And there is nothing worse than knowing you will be at home twiddling your thumbs when the fourth round kicks off.
The way snooker has gone, you spend too long these days twiddling your thumbs between events.
As you sit twiddling your thumbs, Mr Dover begins a right wing rant that makes a yawn become increasingly excitable.
One false move could let the team down and leave you twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next round.
Many of them hadn't planned to but since the mix up, fiasco, downgrading exercise or whatever it turns out to be, it suddenly became an attractive alternative to going to the wrong university or twiddling your thumbs as a temp for a year.
But bosses at Dunfermline's Digital Bridges say there is more to the job than just twiddling your thumbs.
But bosses at Digital Bridges say there is more to the job than just twiddling your thumbs.
There is nothing worse than being at home for two or three months twiddling your thumbs.