Word Origin & History
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.