verb (used without object), noo·dled, noo·dling.

  1. to improvise a musical passage in a casual manner, especially as a warm-up exercise.
  2. Informal.
    1. to play; toy: to noodle with numbers as a hobby.
    2. to improvise, experiment, or think creatively: The writers noodled for a week and came up with a better idea for the ad campaign.

verb (used with object), noo·dled, noo·dling.

  1. Informal.
    1. to manipulate or tamper with: She denied that she had noodled the statistics to get a favorable result.
    2. to make or devise freely as an exercise or experiment (sometimes followed by up): The architects noodled up a model of a solar house.

Verb Phrases

  1. noodle around, Informal. to play, experiment, or improvise.


  1. slang aimless musical improvisation


  1. (often plural) a ribbon-like strip of pasta: noodles are often served in soup or with a sauce


  1. US and Canadian a slang word for head (def. 1)
  2. a simpleton


  1. (intr) slang to improvise aimlessly on a musical instrument

n.“narrow strip of dried dough,” 1779, from German Nudel, which is of unknown origin. West Flemish noedel and French nouille are German loan-words. The older noun meaning “simpleton, stupid person” (1753) probably is an unrelated word, as is the slang word for “head” (attested from 1914). v.1937 (implied in noodling), from noun meaning “improvised music,” 1926, probably from noodle (n.), on analogy of the suppleness of the food and that of the trills and improvised phrases in jazz improvisations. Related: Noodled.

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