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

My favorite Scottish fiddle pub, Sandy Bell’s, is around the corner, as is the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and the Greyfriars Kirk. Rick Jordan, Condé Nast Traveler, "My Favorite Airbnb in Edinburgh: A Minimalist Haven in Old Town," 6 Sep. 2019 Jack and Barbara Lopez, Golden The Amazon is burning It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the epitaph for the 21st century will be: Trump fiddles while Earth burns. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Searching for a glimmer of hope as gun violence soars (8/24/19)," 25 Aug. 2019 Country music may have flowered in the U.S., but its roots–including fiddle tunes and ballads from the British Isles, many of them songs about lost loves and premature death–lie on the other side of an ocean. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Country Music Crosses the Pond in Wild Rose," 20 June 2019 Mofsky will share his new music in a record-release show on Saturday (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) at Lagniappe House in Miami, joined by Elba (bass), Robin Roslund (guitar, fiddle), Pascal Robert (drums) and special guests. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "Weekend Preview: Gold Dust, Josh Blue, frosé and doughnuts," 14 Aug. 2019 The sounds of pedal steel guitar and fiddle weren’t always such sought-after sonic commodities. John Adamian, courant.com, "Asleep at the Wheel, sophisticated cowboy-hat music, at the Kate," 21 June 2019 Together, Hatidze and the kids fiddle with an old radio, play on the swings. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Honeyland Is a Stinging Allegory for Man-Made Disaster," 9 Aug. 2019 Harder called out after watching one of his tour guides fiddle with a small metal cage. Los Angeles Times, "Swamp rats have invaded California. A Central Valley Democrat is declaring war," 7 Aug. 2019 The Texan sisters play triple fiddles with tight three-part vocal harmonies. John Adamian, courant.com, "Texan Quebe Sisters bringing Western swing Infinity Hall," 5 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Apple’s Music app is built directly into the car’s electronics, so no fiddling with CarPlay is necessary. Russ Mitchellstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Meet Taycan, Porsche’s first all-electric sports car and Tesla’s latest challenger," 4 Sep. 2019 The event, put on by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, features 30 pipe bands from the U.S. and Canada; Celtic rock, harping and fiddling; Scottish highland dancing and Irish step dancing. Doug Duran, The Mercury News, "Photos: 154th Scottish Highland Gathering & Games in Pleasanton," 31 Aug. 2019 Popular culture tends to stereotype ham-radio operators as tinkerer-geeks from a bygone era—and indeed, many ham operators enjoy fiddling with their gear and learning about how to operate their radios almost as much as using them. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Choose a Two-Way Radio," 10 Dec. 2018 Now, researchers fiddling with an electron trapped in a diamond have confirmed an essential prediction of a theory that strives to explain this transition from the quantum to classical realm. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Twist on ‘survival of the fittest’ could explain how reality emerges from the quantum haze," 12 Sep. 2019 And of course, there have been complaints about radio shenanigans—use of multiple frequencies to bypass the cutoff, home teams fiddling with the opponent’s signal, deliberately malfunctioning headsets. SI.com, "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 For example, the ratio of white to brown sugar dictates the difference between a crispy or chewy cookie, a distinction emphasized by fiddling around with sugar’s critical 356°F caramelization temperature. Mika Mckinnon, Quartz, "Astronauts will bake cookies in space to see how they cook in zero gravity," 1 Aug. 2019 Steer clear of new hookups and don't fiddle around with your banking. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for July 7, 2019: Aquarius, put things in proportion; Capricorn, balance the heavy load," 7 July 2019 Amidst all the tumult, a report surfaced that in spring-practice team meetings, Brown was frequently late, then fiddled with various tablets and smartphones, checking bank accounts and liking Instagram photos. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Antonio Brown floats onto Raiders’ stage with a thud. What’s next?," 14 Aug. 2019

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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Learn More about fiddle

Statistics for fiddle

Last Updated

23 Oct 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

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