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From Middle English twikken, from Old English twiccian (to pluck), from Proto-West Germanic *twekkōn (to fasten; clamp; pinch). Related to twitch.


  • IPA(key): /twiːk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːk


tweak (third-person singular simple present tweaks, present participle tweaking, simple past and past participle tweaked)

  1. (transitive) To pinch and pull with a sudden jerk and twist; to twitch.
    to tweak the nose.
  2. (transitive, informal) To adjust slightly; to fine-tune.
    If we tweak the colors towards blue, it will look more natural.
    • 2013 August 3, “Boundary problems”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      Economics is a messy discipline: too fluid to be a science, too rigorous to be an art. Perhaps it is fitting that economists’ most-used metric, gross domestic product (GDP), is a tangle too. [] But as a foundation for analysis it is highly subjective: it rests on difficult decisions about what counts as a territory, what counts as output and how to value it. Indeed, economists are still tweaking it.
    • 2017 January 14, “Thailand's new king rejects the army's proposed constitution”, in The Economist[1]:
      Yet on January 10th, only weeks before the charter was due to come into force, the prime minister said his government was tweaking the draft.
  3. (transitive) To twit or tease.
  4. (intransitive, US, slang) To abuse methamphetamines, especially crystal meth.
  5. (intransitive, US, slang) To exhibit symptoms of methamphetamine abuse, such as extreme nervousness, compulsiveness, erratic motion, excitability; possibly a blend of twitch and freak.
  6. (intransitive, US, slang) To exhibit extreme nervousness, evasiveness when confronted by law enforcement or other authority (e.g., customs agents, border patrol, teacher, etc.), mimicking methamphetamine abuse symptoms.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


tweak (plural tweaks)

  1. A sharp pinch or jerk; a twist or twitch.
    a tweak of the nose
  2. A slight adjustment or modification.
    He is running so many tweaks it is hard to remember how it looked originally.
  3. Trouble; distress; tweag.
  4. (obsolete, slang) A prostitute.
    • 1638, Richard Brathwait, Thomas Gent, editor, Barnabae Itinerarium; or Drunken Barnaby's four journeys to the north of England: In Latin and English metre[2], published 1852, page 113:
      Thence to Bautree, as I came there,
      From the bushes near the lane, there
      Rush'd a tweak in gesture flanting
      With a leering eye, and wanton:
      But my flesh I did subdue it
      Fearing lest my purse should rue it.
  5. (cryptography) An additional input to a block cipher, used in conjunction with the key to select the permutation computed by the cipher.



  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967