verb – 1. To pinch, pluck or twist sharply. 2. To adjust; fine-tune. 3. To make fun of; tease.
noun – 1. A sharp, twisting pinch. 2. A teasing remark or action; a joke. [source]

Etymolgoy: From the Old English twiccian (to pluck), from the Proto-Germanic. *twikjonan.

We were discussing tweaking last night in French, and this got me wondering about the English word’s etymology.

French equivalents include modifier légèrement, if you’re talking about make small adjustments; pincer for tweaking the nose; tirer for adjusting hair or a moustache; réglage is used for tuning an engine or adjusting a machine, and tordre means to twist or wring.

The phrase tirer les oreilles à qn means to tweak sb’s ears, and also to give somebody a dressing down.

Often you find that one word in English has a number of possible translations in other languages, and vice versa. If you rely on online dictionaries and machine translation, you don’t necessarily get all those translations. When people write to me requesting translations, they often ask me to translate single words into other languages. Words like love, strength, pride, faith, and so on are popular. The trouble is that they rarely specify what kind of love, pride, etc they mean. However if they just spend a bit of time thinking about this and tweaking their requests, they’re easier to deal with.

This entry was posted in English, French, Language, Translation, Words and phrases.

One Response to Tweaking

  1. Andrew says:

    It’s also a slang term in the U.S. to describe someone who’s on meth (methamphetamine):

    They’re called “tweakers”: