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).
The ultimate source of the word is unknown. Some argue that the similarity in Germanic variations can be explained by adoption and subsequent corruption of a contemporary Latin word, vitula or vidula. This is known to have occurred with the Romance languages eg. viol or viola in French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. Others argue that the Germanic words have a uniquely Teutonic origin, but no earlier forms have been found.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɪd(ə)l/
- (General American) enPR: fĭdʹl, IPA(key): /ˈfɪdl̩/, [ˈfɪɾl̩]
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- Hyphenation: fid‧dle
- Rhymes: -ɪdəl
fiddle (plural fiddles)
- (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
- A kind of dock (Rumex pulcher) with leaves shaped like the musical instrument.
- An adjustment intended to cover up a basic flaw.
- That parameter setting is just a fiddle to make the lighting look right.
- A fraud; a scam.
- (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)
- To play aimlessly.
- 1663 July 23, Samuel Pepys; Mynors Bright, transcriber, “July 13th, 1663 [Julian calendar]”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys […], volume III, London: George Bell & Sons […]; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1893, OCLC 1016700617:
- Talking, and fiddling with their hats and feathers.
- You're fiddling your life away.
- (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.
- (music) To play traditional tunes on a violin in a non-classical style.
- 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.
- (to adjust in order to cover a basic flaw): fudge