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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce whittle (audio)

Dictionary definition of whittle

To reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps.
"The company had to whittle down its workforce due to budget cuts."

Detailed meaning of whittle

For example, one might whittle down a large project into smaller, more manageable tasks. Alternatively, one might whittle away at a debt by paying off small amounts over time. This verb can also refer to the act of carving or shaping wood or another material using a knife or other sharp tool. Whittling can be a relaxing and meditative hobby, and some skilled practitioners can create intricate designs and shapes using only a few simple tools.

Example sentences containing whittle

1. They plan to whittle the company's expenses down by 20% over the next two years.
2. Our team will whittle the proposal to its most essential points for the final presentation.
3. I am determined to whittle my wardrobe down to only the items I truly love.
4. The school board aims to whittle the student-teacher ratio down to more manageable levels.
5. Our challenge is to whittle the list of applicants down to a select few.
6. If we could whittle the length of the project, it would be more manageable.

History and etymology of whittle

The verb 'whittle' has its origins in Old English, where it was spelled as 'hwitilan' or 'thwitelian.' It is believed to be related to the Old English word 'hwitel,' meaning 'white.' In its earliest usage, 'whittle' referred to the act of carving or cutting wood with a small knife or blade, often resulting in shavings or chips of wood that were pale or 'white' in color. Over time, the term's meaning evolved to include the broader sense of reducing something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps, much like the incremental carving of wood. The etymology of 'whittle' thus maintains a connection to the idea of shaping or reducing through careful, step-by-step actions, highlighting the notion of gradual transformation or diminishment.

Quiz: Find the meaning of whittle

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Further usage examples of whittle

1. This new budget plan aims to whittle the city's debt over the next decade.
2. We must whittle the scope of our investigation to ensure it is manageable.
3. To maintain her health, she decided to whittle her sugar intake significantly.
4. Our strategic goal is to whittle our dependence on non-renewable resources.
5. Let's whittle the list of potential names for our product.
6. To make the project feasible, we have to whittle the cost.
7. She needs to whittle the time she spends on social media each day.
8. By adopting an aggressive sales strategy, they were able to whittle their inventory.
9. The coach decided to whittle the number of players on the team.
10. We should whittle the number of modules in this course to enhance focus.
11. He managed to whittle his weekly screen time by an impressive amount.
12. If we don't whittle our expenses, we might end up in financial trouble.
13. The organization plans to whittle the number of active projects to boost efficiency.
14. She decided to whittle down her extensive book collection to make room for new ones.
15. To save money, he began to whittle away at his daily expenses.
16. The sculptor used a knife to whittle the block of wood into a beautiful statue.
17. Over time, they managed to whittle their debt down to a manageable level.
18. He had to whittle his to-do list to focus on the most important tasks.
19. The chef skillfully used a sharp knife to whittle the vegetables into intricate shapes.
20. Years of hard work allowed them to whittle their mortgage down to a reasonable size.
21. She aimed to whittle the excess fat from her body through regular exercise.
22. He decided to whittle the excessive bureaucracy in the organization to improve efficiency.
23. To reduce clutter, she started to whittle her wardrobe down to essentials.
24. They needed to whittle the project's scope to meet the tight deadline.



pare, increase, expand, enlarge


SAT 18 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Middle School 10, Reduce and Weaken

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