A little girl playing a fiddle.
- The definition of a fiddle is an stringed musical instrument that is played with a bow, such as a violin.
An example of a fiddle is what the cat plays in the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle."
- To fiddle is defined as to play a violin, or to spend time doing something without a goal in mind.
- An example of to fiddle is to play the violin in a concert.
- An example of to fiddle is to pick up and look at each piece of jewelry in your jewelry box.
- Informal any stringed instrument played with a bow, esp. the violin
- Slang a petty swindle
- Naut. a frame or railing on a ship's table to keep dishes, etc. from sliding off in rough weather
Origin of fiddleMiddle English fithele from Old English from Vulgar Latin vitula from Classical Latin vitulari, to rejoice: vi- ( from Indo-European an unverified form woi-, an unverified form wi-, outcry from source Old English wi, Classical Greek ia) + uncertain or unknown; perhaps base of tollere, to raise, exalt
transitive verb-·dled, -·dling
- Informal to play (a tune) on a fiddle
- Slang to swindle in a petty way
- Informal to play a fiddle
- to play or tinker (with), esp. in a nervous way
fit as a fiddle
- A violin, especially one used to play folk or country music.
- Nautical A guardrail used on a table during rough weather to prevent things from slipping off.
- Informal Nonsensical, trifling matters: “There are things that are important / beyond all this fiddle” ( Marianne Moore )
- Chiefly British An instance of cheating or swindling; a fraud.
verbfid·dled, fid·dling, fid·dles
- To play a fiddle.
- To touch or handle something in a nervous way: fiddled with the collar of his shirt as he spoke.
- To make unskilled efforts at repairing or improving: fiddled with the broken toaster.
- To meddle or tamper: a reporter who fiddled with the facts.
- Chiefly British To commit a fraud, especially to steal from one's employer.
- To play (a tune) on a fiddle.
- Chiefly British To alter or falsify for dishonest gain: fiddled the figures in the report.
Origin of fiddleMiddle English fidle from Old English fithele
- (music) Any of various bowed string instruments, often used to refer to a violin when played in any of various traditional styles, as opposed to classical violin.
- When I play it like this, it's a fiddle; when I play it like that, it's a violin.
- A kind of dock (Rumex pulcher) with leaves shaped like the musical instrument.
- An adjustment intended to cover up a basic flaw.
- That parameter setting is just a fiddle to make the lighting look right.
- A fraud; a scam.
- (nautical) On board a ship or boat, a rail or batten around the edge of a table or stove to prevent objects falling off at sea. (Also fiddle rail)
(third-person singular simple present fiddles, present participle fiddling, simple past and past participle fiddled)
- To play aimlessly.
- You're fiddling your life away.
- To adjust in order to cover a basic flaw or fraud etc.
- I needed to fiddle the lighting parameters to get the image to look right.
- Fred was sacked when the auditors caught him fiddling the books.
- (music) To play traditional tunes on a violin in a non-classical style.
From Middle English fithele, from Old English fiðele. Cognate with Old High German fidula (German Fiedel), Old Norse fiðla (Icelandic fiðla, Danish fiddel, Norwegian fela), Middle Dutch vedele (Dutch veel, vedel).
The ultimate source of the word is unknown. Some argue that the similarity in Germanic variations can be explained by adoption and subsequent corruption of a contemporary Latin word, vitula or vidula. This is known to have occurred with the Romance languages eg. viol or viola in French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. Others argue that the Germanic words have a uniquely Teutonic origin, but no earlier forms have been found.