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[did-l] /ˈdɪd l/
verb (used with object), diddled, diddling.
Informal. to cheat; swindle; hoax.
Origin of diddle1
First recorded in 1800-10; perhaps special use of diddle2
Related forms
diddler, noun


[did-l] /ˈdɪd l/
verb (used without object), diddled, diddling.
Informal. to toy; fool (usually followed by with):
The kids have been diddling with the controls on the television set again.
to waste time; dawdle (often followed by around):
You would be finished by now if you hadn't spent the morning diddling around.
Informal. to move back and forth with short rapid motions.
verb (used with object), diddled, diddling.
Informal. to move back and forth with short rapid motions; jiggle:
Diddle the switch and see if the light comes on.
  1. to copulate with.
  2. to practice masturbation upon.
1800-10; expressive coinage, perhaps orig. in the Siamese twins diddle-diddle, diddle-daddle; cf. dodder1, doodle1
Related forms
diddler, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for diddle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Since still they make ballads that worse and worseSavor of diddle and hey-de-dee.

  • The origin of the diddle is referrable to the infancy of the Human Race.

  • I reason a priori, and a diddle would be no diddle without a grin.

  • We all wondered what this could be, for we knew it was not there when diddle went up.

    Old Wonder-Eyes L. K. Lippincott
  • He there states that Pancakes and “diddle, diddle dumplings O!”

    The Cries of London John Thomas Smith
  • Did they mean Sir William's son, John, by their "diddle dumpling?"

    Cardigan Robert W. Chambers
  • They diddle the workers o' France an' ither countries in the same way.

    The Underworld

    James C. Welsh
  • I hope you will be so successful in your foreign journey as to diddle the Edinburgh folk out of some cash this winter.

British Dictionary definitions for diddle


verb (informal)
(transitive) to cheat or swindle
(intransitive) an obsolete word for dawdle
Derived Forms
diddler, noun
Word Origin
C19: back formation from Jeremy Diddler, a scrounger in J. Kenney's farce Raising the Wind (1803)


(dialect) to jerk (an object) up and down or back and forth; shake rapidly
Word Origin
C17: probably variant of doderen to tremble, totter; see dodder1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diddle

"to cheat, swindle," 1806, from dialectal duddle, diddle "to totter" (1630s). Meaning "waste time" is recorded from 1825. Meaning "to have sex with" is from 1879; that of "to masturbate" (especially of women) is from 1950s. More or less unrelated meanings that have gathered around a suggestive sound. Related: Diddled; diddling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for diddle



  1. (also diddle around) To waste time; idle; loaf (1825+)
  2. To cheat; swindle; victimize; scam (1806+)
  3. o alter illicitly or illegally; cook, doctor: But I thought Tommy must have diddled the phone records (1980s+)
  4. To do the sex act with or to; screw: Diddle your sister? Circle jerk? (1879+)
  5. (also diddle oneself) To masturbate (1950+)
  6. To insert a finger into a woman's vulva; fingerfuck (1960+)
  7. To correct or adjust a program in various small ways; tweak: I diddled the text editor to ring the bell before it deletes all your files (1980s+ computer)

[cheating sense said to be fr Jeremy Diddler, a character in the 1803 novel Raising the Wind, by James Kenney]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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