1

fiddle

play
noun fid·dle \ ˈfi-dᵊl \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of fiddle

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 chiefly British :swindle

Examples of fiddle in a Sentence

  1. an expert with the fiddle

  2. arrested for a tax fiddle

Recent Examples of fiddle from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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.


2

fiddle

verb

Definition of fiddle

fiddled; fiddling play \ˈfid-liŋ, ˈfi-dᵊl-iŋ\
intransitive verb
1 :to play on a fiddle
2 a :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
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
3 :to alter or manipulate deceptively for fraudulent gain
  • accountants fiddling the books
  • —Stanley Cohen

fiddler

play \ˈfid-lər, ˈfi-dᵊl-ər\ noun

Examples of fiddle in a Sentence

  1. Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

  2. the executive fiddled with a pen as she impatiently waited for the meeting to begin

Recent Examples of fiddle from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of fiddle

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

fiddle Synonyms



FIDDLE Defined for English Language Learners

fiddle

play
noun

Definition of fiddle for English Language Learners

  • : a dishonest way of getting money


fiddle

verb

Definition of fiddle for English Language Learners

  • : to play a violin

  • : to secretly change (something, such as information) in a harmful or dishonest way


FIDDLE Defined for Kids

1

fiddle

play
noun fid·dle \ ˈfi-dᵊl \

Definition of fiddle for Students


2

fiddle

verb

Definition of fiddle for Students

fiddled; fiddling
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.

fiddler

\ˈfid-lər\ noun


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fiddle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to curse or denounce

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!