Thumb twiddling

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Thumb twiddling is an activity that is done with the hands of an individual whereby the fingers are interlocked and the thumbs circle around a common focal point, usually in the middle of the distance between the two thumbs.

While it is an expression of at least a moderate amount of manual dexterity, thumb twiddling is frequently used as an example of a useless, time-wasting activity. It has even been proposed as "the ultimate exercise for the bored and lazy".[1]


Thumb twiddling is considered to be the same useless actives such as opening and closing doors and checking to see if a lock is bolted tight. It's reported that thumb twiddling is common in individuals with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). For some individuals, thumb twiddling is a result in being anxious or nervous, having anxiety, or simply doing it out of habit.[2]

Medical uses[edit]

Thumb twiddling can be used as a simple test for manual dexterity.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hayes, Justin Cord. 747 Things to Do on a Plane: From Lift-off to Landing, All You Need to Make Your Travels Fly By. F+W Publications, Inc., 2008.
  2. ^ "The fine art of Thumb Twiddling". Soph Laugh, 2011-2016.
  3. ^ O'Sullivan, Joanne. I Don't Care If We're There Yet: The Backseat Boredom Buster. Sterling Publishing Co Inc, 2008, p. 19.