- To manipulate an object, especially in a nervous or restless manner.
- To adjust the position, as of an electronic device, in order to provide better reception or signal.
2000, Paul Scherz, Practical electronics for inventors, page 452:
- Fiddle with vertical VOLT/DIV knob until signal comes into view.
2007, Sheryl J. Anderson, Killer Riff, page 49:
- As technology got better, he'd go back and fiddle with them, convinced he could clean them up enough for release.
- (figuratively) To manipulate in order to gain something for oneself.
2004, Jay P. DeCima, Start Small, Profit Big in Real Estate, page 65:
- Don't Fiddle With Sellers Who Have No Equity
- (to manipulate an object restlessly): play with, toy with
- (to adjust the position): tweak, adjust, tinker
- (to manipulate in order to gain something): mess with
to restlessly toy with