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whittle

[hwit-l, wit-l] /ˈʰwɪt l, ˈwɪt l/
verb (used with object), whittled, whittling.
1.
to cut, trim, or shape (a stick, piece of wood, etc.) by carving off bits with a knife.
2.
to form by whittling:
to whittle a figure.
3.
to cut off (a bit).
4.
to reduce the amount of, as if by whittling; pare down; take away by degrees (usually followed by down, away, etc.):
to whittle down the company's overhead; to whittle away one's inheritance.
verb (used without object), whittled, whittling.
5.
to whittle wood or the like with a knife, as in shaping something or as a mere aimless diversion:
to spend an afternoon whittling.
6.
to tire oneself or another by worrying or fussing.
noun
7.
British Dialect. a knife, especially a large one, as a carving knife or a butcher knife.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English (noun), dialectal variant of thwitel knife, Old English thwīt(an) to cut + -el -le
Related forms
whittler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for whittled
  • Come morning, watching the sun rise over the whittled canyon was as mesmerizing as watching waves roll in.
  • Many of the cuts came from voluntary reductions in pay and benefits as the economy whittled away at campus budgets.
  • Multihued summits-whittled by ancient glaciers into walls and horns-rise abruptly from gently rolling plains.
  • But as developers make their way around the archipelago, shark habitat will continue to be whittled away.
  • The weather that carved such forms whittled away at us too.
  • Big mammals also have suffered as their habitat has been whittled away.
  • For one, it's easily whittled down to a one-on-one confrontation between pitcher and batter.
  • For law firms, that shift in priorities has whittled down a significant source of profits.
  • But over the decades the hours were whittled down, with noticeable results.
  • The conventional wisdom says that today's whittled-down pilot programs are all that is politically achievable.
British Dictionary definitions for whittled

whittle

/ˈwɪtəl/
verb
1.
to cut or shave strips or pieces from (wood, a stick, etc), esp with a knife
2.
(transitive) to make or shape by paring or shaving
3.
(transitive; often foll by away, down, off, etc) to reduce, destroy, or wear away gradually
4.
(Northern English, dialect) (intransitive) to complain or worry about something continually
noun
5.
(Brit, dialect) a knife, esp a large one
Derived Forms
whittler, noun
Word Origin
C16: variant of C15 thwittle large knife, from Old English thwitel, from thwītan to cut; related to Old Norse thveitr cut, thveita to beat

Whittle

/ˈwɪtəl/
noun
1.
Sir Frank. 1907–96, English engineer, who invented the jet engine for aircraft; flew first British jet aircraft (1941)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whittled

whittle

v.

1550s, "to cut thin shavings from (something) with a knife," from Middle English whittel "a knife" (c1400), variant of thwittle (late 14c.), from Old English þwitan "to cut," from Proto-Germanic *thwitanan (cf. Old Norse þveita "to hew"). Figurative sense is attested from 1746. Related: Whittled; whittling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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whittled in Science
Whittle
  (wĭt'l)   
British aeronautical engineer and inventor who developed the first aircraft engine powered by jet propulsion in 1937.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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15
15
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