whittle away at sth
— phrasal verb with whittle uk /ˈwɪt.əl/ us /ˈwɪt̬.əl/ verb [ T ]
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(Definition of “whittle away at sth” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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to move along by putting one foot in front of the other, allowing each foot to touch the ground before lifting the next