whittle » wheedle

Chiefly in:   wheedle down

Classification: English – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Google recently started wheedling down a long list of investment banks it approached earlier this month about underwriting the offering, which could be worth from $15 billion to $25 billion, the executives said.” (link)
  • “Strive to use 10% of your earnings monthly to wheedle down all of your credit card, home and/or other interest continuously.” (link)
  • “Hence there develops the need for a “weeding out” process to wheedle down the number of submitted paintings for a proposed exhibition to something …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Geoff Nathan (American Dialect Society mailing list, 31 October 2003)

The first cite (from CINet news on 31 October 2003) is from Nathan’s 2003 posting. There were about 150 Google webhits on 27 June 2005, only a few of them involving actual wheedling. The unfamiliarity of whittling probably played a role in the substitution of “wheedle” for “whittle”. “Wheedle” also contributes a note of plaintive difficulty to the verb.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/06/27 |

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