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second fiddle

a secondary role:
to play second fiddle to another person.
a person serving in a subsidiary capacity, especially to one immediately superior.
Origin of second fiddle
1825-35 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for second-fiddle
Historical Examples
  • Bill declined to play the second-fiddle parts; he took himself out of Mary's orchestra entirely.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • He found it hard to believe a man of my sort, so self-assured, would stand the truth from a man of his second-fiddle sort.

    The Deluge David Graham Phillips
  • Mrs. Fox-Darriel found the rle of second-fiddle a little dull; still, it was well worth while to play it.

    The Confounding of Camelia Anne Douglas Sedgwick
British Dictionary definitions for second-fiddle

second fiddle

noun (informal)
  1. the second violin in a string quartet or one of the second violins in an orchestra
  2. the musical part assigned to such an instrument
a secondary status
a person who has a secondary status
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for second-fiddle

second fiddle


: a sort of second-fiddle appointment


A person or thing that is not the most favored, the best, the leader, etc: definitely second fiddle before the Convention started (1809+)

Related Terms

play second fiddle

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with second-fiddle

second fiddle

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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