| Share
 

Whittle Down

To cut away with a knife or whittle; to reduce; to encroach. In Cumberland, underpaid schoolmasters used to be allowed Whittle-gaiti.e. the privilege of knife and fork at the table of those who employ them.

The Americans “whittled down the royal throne;” “whittled out a commonwealth;” “whittle down the forest trees;” “whittle out a railroad;” “whittle down to the thin end of nothing.” (Saxon, hwytel, a large knife.)

“We have whittled down our loss extremely, and will not allow a man more than 350 English slain out of 4,000.” —Walpole.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More on Whittle Down from Infoplease:

Related Content


24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring