fiddle

noun
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 [ 2fiddle ] chiefly British : swindle

fiddle

verb
fiddled; fiddling\ ˈfid-​liŋ How to pronounce fiddling (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

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Other Words from fiddle

Verb

fiddler \ ˈfid-​lər How to pronounce fiddler (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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Zac Brown Band is back in the stadiums this summer -- and wouldn't have it any other way, according to the group's fiddle player and backing singer Jimmy De Martini. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Zac Brown Band's Jimmy De Martini Talks Massive Summer Tour, Plans for Next Album," 5 July 2018 That year, a fiddle player named Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys showed up and started playing — a free lunchtime show every weekday, plus dances Thursday and Saturday nights, all broadcast live throughout the West on KVOO-AM radio. Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "Rockers, punks and cowboys find a rowdy haven at Cain's in Tulsa, Okla.," 14 June 2018 Frank, a fiddle-leaf fig, is the oldest and has been with him for four years. Amber Burton, WSJ, "Forget the Cat Ladies, Meet the Plant Parents," 11 July 2018 In the Dixie Chicks, no one is second fiddle -- not even the fiddle, especially here. 2. Aly Semigran, Billboard, "Dixie Chicks' 'Wide Open Spaces' Turns 20: Ranking All the Songs," 27 Jan. 2018 Overclocking is typically a trial-and-error process: increase the clock speed, run some intensive workloads to make sure everything works OK, maybe fiddle with the GPU voltage to eke out a bit more stability. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Nvidia makes GPU overclocking a lot smarter with “Scanner”," 14 Sep. 2018 The Kolodners are well regarded for their innovative and unique interpretations of traditional and original fiddle tunes. Lisa Gueli Regnante, Howard County Times, "Old-time folk music stars kick off Glen Mar concerts [Ellicott City]," 21 June 2018 Monroe’s first collaborators were his much older brothers, Birch and Charlie, who played fiddle and guitar in rural Kentucky with an adolescent Bill tagging along. Eddie Dean, WSJ, "‘Bill Monroe’ and ‘Blue Grass Generation’ Review: The Blue Grass Boy," 27 Sep. 2018 At that time, the Seahawks were, at best, the fourth fiddle in town, with the Mariners breaking through in 1995, the Sonics going to the Finals in 1996, and UW football a perennial power. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "With Paul Allen’s death, it’s unclear what happens next with Seahawks ownership," 15 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Fed up with any and all notifications, but don’t want to fiddle with them? Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10 blocks pesky notifications with improved Focus Assist feature in Build 18277," 7 Nov. 2018 Time Capsule, especially, provided one-stop, no-muss backup for people who didn’t want to fiddle with external hard drives. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Apple’s Done Making Airport Routers, So Try These Instead," 28 Apr. 2018 Those inputs are also enough to offer full control over a surprisingly large array of Switch games (sometimes with a bit of menu fiddling). Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Hands-on: Switch’s NES controllers offer unmatched old-school authenticity," 13 Dec. 2018 Prince Harry was noticeably fiddling with his wedding ring during his engagement at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre yesterday. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Keeps Touching His Wedding Ring and It's a Sweet Nod to Meghan Markle," 14 Sep. 2018 Would the baristas have been accused of fiddling with their milk steamers while Boston’s little slice of Rome burned? Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Weep not for Starbucks. But in the North End, what comes next?," 12 July 2018 And there's something more disruptive about pulling out your phone and fiddling with your screen rather than taking some quick glances at your watch. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "A look at the Apple Watch’s ECG, from someone who needs it," 12 Dec. 2018 Nobody was exactly fiddling, but there’s more than a faint whiff of carbon in the air. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "California’s Tech Titans Fight Fires of Their Own," 16 Nov. 2018 But that changed in the Obama era, when McNaughton took to his canvas in order to depict Obama as a Constitution-burning, democracy-hating demagogue who spent his time alternately fiddling and golfing while the country itself goes up in flames. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "To Trump fans, #MAGA is more than a slogan. It’s an aesthetic.," 8 Aug. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of fiddle

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

History and Etymology for fiddle

Noun

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.

Verb

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

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Statistics for fiddle

Last Updated

27 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fiddle

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

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More Definitions for fiddle

fiddle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fiddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

informal
British : a dishonest way of getting money

fiddle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fiddle (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : to play a violin
chiefly British, informal : to secretly change (something, such as information) in a harmful or dishonest way

fiddle

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

Kids Definition of fiddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: violin

fiddle

verb
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fiddle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fiddle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fiddle

Spanish Central: Translation of fiddle

Nglish: Translation of fiddle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fiddle for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fiddle

Comments on fiddle

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