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second fiddle

See more synonyms for second fiddle on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a secondary role: to play second fiddle to another person.
  2. a person serving in a subsidiary capacity, especially to one immediately superior.
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Origin of second fiddle

First recorded in 1825–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

understudy, benchwarmer

Examples from the Web for second fiddle

Historical Examples

  • Mrs. Fox-Darriel found the rle of second-fiddle a little dull; still, it was well worth while to play it.

    The Confounding of Camelia

    Anne Douglas Sedgwick

  • Bill declined to play the second-fiddle parts; he took himself out of Mary's orchestra entirely.

    Fore!

    Charles Emmett Van Loan

  • He found it hard to believe a man of my sort, so self-assured, would stand the truth from a man of his second-fiddle sort.

    The Deluge

    David Graham Phillips


British Dictionary definitions for second fiddle

second fiddle

noun informal
    1. the second violin in a string quartet or one of the second violins in an orchestra
    2. the musical part assigned to such an instrument
  1. a secondary status
  2. a person who has a secondary status
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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

Idioms and Phrases with second fiddle

second fiddle

see play second fiddle.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.