- trifling; trivial: a fiddling sum of money.
Origin of fiddling
- a musical instrument of the viol family.
- violin: Her aunt plays first fiddle with the state symphony orchestra.
- Nautical. a small ledge or barrier raised in heavy weather to keep dishes, pots, utensils, etc., from sliding off tables and stoves.
- British Informal. swindle; fraud.
- to play on the fiddle.
- to make trifling or fussing movements with the hands (often followed by with): fiddling with his cuffs.
- to touch or manipulate something, as to operate or adjust it; tinker (often followed by with): You may have to fiddle with the antenna to get a clear picture on the TV.
- to waste time; trifle; dally (often followed by around): Stop fiddling around and get to work.
- British Informal. to cheat.
- to play (a tune) on a fiddle.
- to trifle or waste (usually used with away): to fiddle time away.
- Bookbinding. to bind together (sections or leaves of a book) by threading a cord through holes cut lengthwise into the back.
- British Informal.
- to falsify: to fiddle the account books.
- to cheat: to fiddle the company out of expense money.
Origin of fiddle
Related Words for fiddlingfool, fidget, interfere, trifle, play, toy, handle, monkey, feel, tamper, putter, dabble, mess, finger, twiddle, doodle, touch, puddle, potter
Examples from the Web for fiddling
Contemporary Examples of fiddling
Yorke and Godrich know how to make all this fiddling about sound pretty good, even if just as background music.Newest Album From Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Is No Online Afterthought
September 27, 2014
Most of the extra time will be filled by watching television or fiddling around on the internet.When Work Disappears
June 14, 2013
The United States could pass some fiddling, complicated patch designed to prevent Apple from doing exactly what it is doing.Congress to Grill Apple CEO About Taxes
May 21, 2013
All this fiddling is occurring while Rome burns—and our recovery hangs in the balance.As Plan B Fails, GOP Imperils Fiscal Cliff Deal, Boehner’s Speakership
December 21, 2012
Second, it maintains the temperature by itself, rather than you standing there fiddling with the stove dial.The 2012 Holiday Kitchen Gift Guide
December 13, 2012
Historical Examples of fiddling
He kept edging in, and fiddling with his reins and his revolvers, and saying, 'Dear me!Soldiers Three, Part II.
The fiddling, dancing and "jubilee beating," was going on in all directions.My Bondage and My Freedom
He began punching buttons for data and fiddling with setscrews and verniers.Space Viking
Henry Beam Piper
So we sat, dry, upon the stools, listening to the Dagoes fiddling on deck.The Four Million
He was on the far side of it, fiddling with something hidden.Lease to Doomsday
- trifling or insignificant; petty
- another word for fiddly
- informal any instrument of the viol or violin family, esp the violin
- a violin played as a folk instrument
- time-wasting or trifling behaviour; nonsense; triviality
- nautical a small railing around the top of a table to prevent objects from falling off it in bad weather
- British informal an illegal or fraudulent transaction or arrangement
- British informal a manually delicate or tricky operation
- at the fiddle or on the fiddle informal engaged in an illegal or fraudulent undertaking
- face as long as a fiddle informal a dismal or gloomy facial expression
- fit as a fiddle informal in very good health
- play second fiddle informal to be subordinate; play a minor part
- to play (a tune) on the fiddle
- (intr often foll by with) to make restless or aimless movements with the hands
- (when intr, often foll by about or around) informal to spend (time) or act in a careless or inconsequential manner; waste (time)
- (often foll by with) informal to tamper or interfere (with)
- informal to contrive to do (something) by illicit means or deceptionhe fiddled his way into a position of trust
- (tr) informal to falsify (accounts, etc); swindle
Word Origin for fiddle
late 14c., from fiddle (n.); the figurative sense of "to act nervously or idly" is from 1520s. Related: Fiddled; fiddling.
late 14c., fedele, earlier fithele, from Old English fiðele, which is related to Old Norse fiðla, Middle Dutch vedele, Dutch vedel, Old High German fidula, German Fiedel; all of uncertain origin.
Perhaps from Medieval Latin vitula "stringed instrument," which is perhaps related to Latin vitularia "celebrate joyfully," from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy and victory, who probably, like her name, originated among the Sabines [Klein, Barnhart]. Unless the Medieval Latin word is from the Germanic ones.
Fiddle has been relegated to colloquial usage by its more proper cousin, violin, a process encouraged by phraseology such as fiddlesticks, contemptuous nonsense word fiddlededee (1784), and fiddle-faddle. Fit as a fiddle is from 1610s.
In addition to the idiom beginning with fiddle
- fiddle while Rome burns
- fit as a fiddle
- hang up (one's fiddle)
- play second fiddle