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I see this "action" everywhere but I've never seen it written. If you're wondering what I'm talking about it's when someone "confidently spins their keychain thingy on their finger whilst walking over to their car". I see it in every movie with a guy that drives a car. It's so "everywhere", yet I have no idea how to write it in a way that's not awkward, like my title. So, is there a "phrase" for this action? The first thing I thought of was:

He spun his keys on his finger as he walked over to his car

But it seems too awkward and clunky. I'm not sure if there is a dedicated phrase for this one very specific thing, but any other alternatives are welcome as the one I currently have is very bad.

  • couldn't find a source to back this up, but I commonly hear he played with his keys – rosslh Jun 11 '18 at 19:03
  • @rosslh Does on think of someone spinning the keys on their finger when hearing that phrase? If so then I'll use it, but I can't say I envision it myself. But then again, I've never seen the phrase before. – A. Kvåle Jun 11 '18 at 19:10
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    "Fiddling with one's keys" includes all such random activities; there's no special term for individual ones. – John Lawler Jun 11 '18 at 19:11
  • Sounds perfectly idiomatic. – Mitch Jun 11 '18 at 20:52
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    I’d go with “He twirled his keys on/around his finger” – Jim Jun 11 '18 at 21:58
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I like "twirling his keys on his finger"

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He twiddled [with] his keys.

twiddle verb to turn about or play with lightly or idly, especially with the fingers; twirl.

{Dictionary.com}

Twiddling a pencil obviously involves rotation, and twiddling a set of keys cannot really involve anything other than spinning them.

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He swung the keys around his finger and into his palm.

using the idea of a pivot/fulcrum from definition 4 in above link.

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He fiddled with his keys while walking to his car.

fiddle with (something) TFD idiom

to play or tinker with something to manipulate something without a clear sense of purpose

and/or

He played with with his keys while walking to his car.

play with (something) TFD idiom

  1. To amuse oneself with something.
  2. To idly or distractedly toy with or manipulate something.

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