fid·​dle | \ ˈfi-dᵊl How to pronounce fiddle (audio) \

Definition of fiddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : violin
2 : a device (such as a slat, rack, or light railing) to keep objects from sliding off a table aboard ship
3 : fiddlesticks used as an interjection
4 [fiddle entry 2] chiefly British : swindle


fiddled; fiddling\ ˈfid-​liŋ How to pronounce fiddle (audio) , ˈfi-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of fiddle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to play on a fiddle
2a : to move the hands or fingers restlessly
b : to spend time in aimless or fruitless activity : putter, tinker fiddled around with the engine for hours
c : meddle, tamper
d : to make minor manual movements especially to adjust something fiddled with the radio knobs

transitive verb

1 : to play (something) on a fiddle fiddle a tune
2 : cheat, swindle
3 : to alter or manipulate deceptively for fraudulent gain accountants fiddling the books— Stanley Cohen

Other Words from fiddle


fiddler \ ˈfid-​lər How to pronounce fiddle (audio) , ˈfi-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Examples of fiddle in a Sentence

Noun an expert with the fiddle arrested for a tax fiddle Verb Nero fiddled while Rome burned. the executive fiddled with a pen as she impatiently waited for the meeting to begin
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In his introduction, Carter gushes over the beauty that plants like Frank, his fiddle-leaf fig, bring to our homes, but balances his attention to the aesthetics of houseplants with advice about attending to their needs. Alicia Andrzejewski, Outside Online, 15 Apr. 2022 Last year Miranda Lambert was in the running for Entertainer of the Year, and Jenee Fleenor, a fiddle player, was the Musician fo the Year. Megan Stein, Country Living, 22 Mar. 2022 Marys Lane currently includes Mulloy, percussionist Mark Whalen, singer-bassist Matt Sofranko, mandolin and banjo player Brent Hopper and fiddle player Tessa Thistlethwaite, according to the band’s website. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 16 Mar. 2022 The Police’s Stewart Copeland plays drums, Sean Lennon sings and aids on guitar, Hütz’ bandmate Sergey Ryabtseb plays the fiddle, and Billy Strings joins on the acoustic guitar. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 20 Apr. 2022 But while Google’s search and ad businesses destroy the field, helping parent company Alphabet report a company-record $76 billion in profit last year, its cloud division remains third fiddle. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 8 Mar. 2022 Once PopPop was set free, Marks gave him the fiddle. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 Ryan Engleman’s lead guitar and Kyle Nix’s fiddle alternated places at the front of the mix while Hank Early’s accordion and pedal steel balanced the bass of R.C. Edwards to uphold Turnpike’s standard swampy swing sound. Josh Crutchmer, Rolling Stone, 9 Apr. 2022 Here, with the group culled to a trio with just acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle, this track is a dreamy country mix. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 1 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The other three here, from Rolex, Tag Heuer and Omega, also stress utility with their prominent crowns and dials that would benefit a wearer too focused on the task at hand to fiddle with their watch. New York Times, 2 Mar. 2022 Researchers need to fiddle with the amounts or efficiency of the various enzymes engineered into the microbes to optimize the production of carminic acid and reduce the amounts of undesired byproducts. Brittany J. Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2022 To get his ship moving, Toe will have to fiddle with all sorts of machinery in and out of water, as well as make upgrades and repairs to the ship. Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2022 His hands fiddle with the cap of a large Acqua Panna water bottle, ripping out the lid’s plastic innards. Lauren Larson, Men's Health, 21 Mar. 2022 This means there'll be no need to fiddle with cards or apps to unlock the charger. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 9 Mar. 2022 The speaker comes with a circular wireless charging base, so there’s no need to fiddle with cables. Simon Hill, Wired, 10 Jan. 2022 Two bored sales folk fiddle their phones in the back, the entire tableau resembling a lost work by Samuel Beckett. Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2021 But not all of them proved durable; Congress began to fiddle with the rates (and the tax base) almost immediately. Joseph Thorndike, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fiddle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fiddle


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for fiddle


Middle English fithele, fethill, fydel, going back to Old English *fithele (assumed from the derivative fithelere "fiddler"), going back to Germanic *fiþlō- (whence Middle Dutch vedele "stringed instrument," Old High German fidula, fidala, Old Norse fiðla), perhaps of onomatopoeic origin

Note: See note at viol.


Middle English fithelyn, fydelin, derivative of fithele, fydel fiddle entry 1

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Time Traveler for fiddle

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The first known use of fiddle was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fiddle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fiddle


fid·​dle | \ ˈfi-dᵊl How to pronounce fiddle (audio) \

Kids Definition of fiddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: violin


fiddled; fiddling

Kids Definition of fiddle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to play on a fiddle
2 : to move the hands or fingers restlessly She kept fiddling with her ring.
3 : to spend time in aimless activity They fiddled around and accomplished nothing.
4 : to change or handle in a useless way He fiddled with the controls.
5 : to handle in a harmful or foolish way : tamper Someone has been fiddling with the lock.

Other Words from fiddle

fiddler \ ˈfid-​lər \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on fiddle

Nglish: Translation of fiddle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fiddle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fiddle


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