fiddle around

fiddle

[fid-l]
noun
1.
a musical instrument of the viol family.
2.
violin: Her aunt plays first fiddle with the state symphony orchestra.
3.
Nautical. a small ledge or barrier raised in heavy weather to keep dishes, pots, utensils, etc., from sliding off tables and stoves.
4.
British Informal. swindle; fraud.
verb (used without object), fiddled, fiddling.
5.
to play on the fiddle.
6.
to make trifling or fussing movements with the hands (often followed by with ): fiddling with his cuffs.
7.
to touch or manipulate something, as to operate or adjust it; tinker (often followed by with ): You may have to fiddle with the antenna to get a clear picture on the TV.
8.
to waste time; trifle; dally (often followed by around ): Stop fiddling around and get to work.
9.
British Informal. to cheat.
verb (used with object), fiddled, fiddling.
10.
to play (a tune) on a fiddle.
11.
to trifle or waste (usually used with away ): to fiddle time away.
12.
Bookbinding. to bind together (sections or leaves of a book) by threading a cord through holes cut lengthwise into the back.
13.
British Informal.
a.
to falsify: to fiddle the account books.
b.
to cheat: to fiddle the company out of expense money.
Idioms
14.
fine as a fiddle, South Midland and Southern U.S. fiddle ( def 15 ).
15.
fit as a fiddle, in perfect health; very fit: The doctor told him he was fit as a fiddle. Also, as fit as a fiddle.
16.
play second fiddle. second fiddle.

Origin:
before 1000; Middle English; Old English fithele (cognate with German Fiedel, Dutch vedel, Old High German fidula) probably < Vulgar Latin *vītula (cf. viol, viola1), perhaps derivative of Latin vītulārī to rejoice

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
fiddle (ˈfɪdəl)
 
n
1.  informal any instrument of the viol or violin family, esp the violin
2.  a violin played as a folk instrument
3.  time-wasting or trifling behaviour; nonsense; triviality
4.  nautical a small railing around the top of a table to prevent objects from falling off it in bad weather
5.  informal (Brit) an illegal or fraudulent transaction or arrangement
6.  informal (Brit) a manually delicate or tricky operation
7.  informal at the fiddle, on the fiddle engaged in an illegal or fraudulent undertaking
8.  informal face as long as a fiddle a dismal or gloomy facial expression
9.  informal fit as a fiddle in very good health
10.  informal play second fiddle to be subordinate; play a minor part
 
vb (often foll by with) (when intr, often foll by about or around)
11.  to play (a tune) on the fiddle
12.  to make restless or aimless movements with the hands
13.  informal to spend (time) or act in a careless or inconsequential manner; waste (time)
14.  informal (often foll by with) to tamper or interfere (with)
15.  informal to contrive to do (something) by illicit means or deception: he fiddled his way into a position of trust
16.  informal (tr) to falsify (accounts, etc); swindle
 
[Old English fithele, probably from Medieval Latin vītula, from Latin vītulārī to celebrate; compare Old High German fidula fiddle; see viola1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

fiddle
O.E. fiðele, related to O.N. fiðla, M.Du. vedele, Ger. Fiedel; all probably from M.L. vitula "stringed instrument," perhaps related to L. vitularia "celebrate joyfully," from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy and victory, who probably, like her name, originated among the Sabines. The verb is from
late 14c.; the figurative sense of "to act idly" is from 1520s. Related: Fiddling. The word has been relegated to colloquial usage by its more proper cousin, violin, a process encouraged by phraseology such as fiddlestick (15c., originally "the bow of a fiddle;" meaning "nonsense" is from 1620s) and fiddle-faddle (1570s), which is unrelated, being a reduplication of obsolete faddle "to trifle." Fit as a fiddle is from 1610s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

fiddle definition


Another name for the violin; fiddle is the more common term for the instrument as played in folk music and bluegrass.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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