second fiddle


a secondary role: to play second fiddle to another person.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for second fiddle

  • 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
  • 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

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
a secondary status
a person who has a secondary status
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.

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