fiddle

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English[edit]

A woman playing a fiddle.
John Brown's a-Hanging on a Sour Apple Tree
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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English fithele, from Old English fiþele. Cognate with Old High German fidula (German Fiedel), Middle Dutch vedele (Dutch vedel, veel), Old Norse fiðla (Icelandic fiðla, Danish fiddel, Norwegian fela).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

fiddle (plural fiddles)

  1. (music) Any of various bowed string instruments, often a violin when played in any of various traditional styles, as opposed to classical violin.
    When I play it like this, it's a fiddle; when I play it like that, it's a violin.
    Synonym: violin
  2. A kind of dock (Rumex pulcher) with leaves shaped like the musical instrument.
  3. An adjustment intended to cover up a basic flaw.
    That parameter setting is just a fiddle to make the lighting look right.
  4. A fraud; a scam.
  5. (nautical) On board a ship or boat, a rail or batten around the edge of a table or stove to prevent objects falling off at sea. (Also fiddle rail)

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Verb[edit]

fiddle (third-person singular simple present fiddles, present participle fiddling, simple past and past participle fiddled)

  1. To play aimlessly.
    • (Can we date this quote by Samuel Pepys and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Talking, and fiddling with their hats and feathers.
    You're fiddling your life away.
  2. (transitive) To adjust or manipulate for deception or fraud.
    I needed to fiddle the lighting parameters to get the image to look right.
    Fred was sacked when the auditors caught him fiddling the books.
  3. (music) To play traditional tunes on a violin in a non-classical style.
    • (Can we date this quote by Francis Bacon and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Themistocles [] said he could not fiddle, but he could make a small town a great city.
  4. To touch or fidget with something in a restless or nervous way, or tinker with something in an attempt to make minor adjustments or improvements.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (to adjust in order to cover a basic flaw): fudge

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