second fiddle

noun
1.
a secondary role: to play second fiddle to another person.
2.
a person serving in a subsidiary capacity, especially to one immediately superior.

Origin:
1825–35

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
second fiddle
 
n
1.  a.  the second violin in a string quartet or one of the second violins in an orchestra
 b.  the musical part assigned to such an instrument
2.  a secondary status
3.  a person who has a secondary status

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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Slang Dictionary

second fiddle definition


  1. n.
    a person in a secondary role; the second best. (Frequently with play.) : I won't stay around here playing second fiddle for someone half my age and ability!
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

second fiddle

see play second fiddle.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
But here his role is limited, too often leaving him playing second fiddle to
  this film's weirdly hypnotic special effects.
But one thing that strikes me is that my smartness seems to play second fiddle.
Sunnis have to accept that as the minority sect they will play second fiddle.
Business or strategic interests may also on their agenda, but are playing
  second fiddle.
Idioms & Phrases
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