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v. whit·tled, whit·tling, whit·tles
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.
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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.