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 ?
The boy was sitting in a disconsolate little heap by the roadside, whittling half-heartedly at a small stick.
Now, say--my friend--don't you know any better than to be whittling the ship all to pieces that way?
replied Tom Hunter, whittling with his bowie-knife the arms of his easy chair; "but if that be the case there, all that is left for us is to plant tobacco and distill whale-oil.