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From Middle English twikken, from Old English twiccian (to pluck), cognate with twitch.



tweak (plural tweaks)

  1. A sharp pinch or jerk; a twist or twitch.
    a tweak of the nose.
  2. Trouble; distress; tweag.
  3. A slight adjustment or modification.
    He is running so many tweaks it is hard to remember how it looked originally.
  4. (obsolete, slang) A prostitute.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Brathwait to this entry?)


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.
    • 2013 August 3, “Boundary problems”, 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.
    If we tweak the colors towards blue, it will look more natural.
  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]


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