whittling


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whit·tle

 (wĭt′l, hwĭt′l)
v. whit·tled, whit·tling, whit·tles
v.tr.
1.
a. To cut small bits or pare shavings from (a piece of wood).
b. To fashion or shape in this way: whittle a toy boat.
2. To reduce or eliminate gradually: whittled down the debt by making small payments.
v.intr.
To cut or shape wood with a knife.

[From Middle English whyttel, knife, variant of thwitel, from thwiten, to whittle, from Old English thwītan, to strike, whittle down.]

whit′tler n.

whittling

The surgical alteration of the thumbs or fingers to enable more efficient use of handheld electronic devices such as cell phones.
References in classic literature ?
May be not, taking out a stick and whittling a toothpick, but I rayther guess you'll be done brown if that ere harpooneer hears you a slanderin' his head.
There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and loafers roosting on them all day long, whittling them with their Barlow knives; and chawing tobacco, and gaping and yawning and stretching -- a mighty ornery lot.
What with whittling the switchboards, swearing at subscribers, playing tricks with the wires, and roaring on all occasions like young bulls of Bashan, the boys in the first exchanges did their full share in adding to the troubles of the business.