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fiddle about (with something)

To play with or idly handle (something); to tinker (with something), especially ineptly or improperly. John, would you quit fiddling about with the engine and bring the car to a shop already? Mary, stop fiddling about with hem of your dress and sit still!
See also: fiddle

fiddle (someone) out of (something)

To steal something from someone through a cheat, swindle, or con. Primarily heard in UK. That dirty lawyer managed to fiddle my family out of thousands of dollars of inheritance money.
See also: fiddle, of, out

on the fiddle

Engaged in deceitful, fraudulent, or dishonest means of obtaining money. My career will be over if anyone ever finds out I was on the fiddle during my time as the company treasurer. There are always politicians on the fiddle, looking for ways to use their positions of power to earn a bit more money.
See also: fiddle

play first fiddle

To have a leading, commanding, or controlling role, position, or part (in something). (A less common extension of the phrase "play second fiddle," meaning to serve in a subordinate role or position.) Ever since the power shift in Congress, Senator Smith has been playing first fiddle in the agenda for tax reforms. Though she's had many small parts in a variety of films, this is the first movie that sees Ms. Warren playing first fiddle.
See also: fiddle, first, play

get played like a fiddle

To be skillfully manipulated by someone to suit his or her own needs, ends, or benefits. I got played like a fiddle by that travelling salesman. Now what am I going to do with all this junk that he convinced me to buy? Can't you see that his flattery is totally insincere? You're getting played like a fiddle!
See also: fiddle, get, like, play

be played like a fiddle

To be skillfully manipulated by someone to suit his or her own needs, ends, or benefits. I was played like a fiddle by that travelling salesman. Now what am I going to do with all this junk that he convinced me to buy? Can't you see that his flattery is totally insincere? You're being played like a fiddle!
See also: fiddle, like, play

play (someone) like a fiddle

To easily and deftly manipulate someone to suit one's own needs, ends, or benefits. That travelling salesman played me like a fiddle. Now what am I going to do with all this junk that he convinced me to buy? Can't you see that his flattery is totally insincere? He's playing you like a fiddle!
See also: fiddle, like, play

couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle

Rur. unable to aim; very clumsy. (Jocular. Use with caution.) Tom: Is Jane a good shot? Charlie: She couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle.
See also: ass, bass, bull, fiddle, hit

fiddle around

(with someone) and fiddle about (with someone) to tease, annoy, or play with someone; to waste someone's time. All right, stop fiddling around with me and tell me how much you will give me for my car. Now it's time for all of you to quit fiddling around and get to work. Tom, you have to stop spending your time fiddling about with your friends. It's time to get serious with your studies.
See also: around, fiddle

fiddle around (with something)

 and fiddle about (with something)
to play with something; to tinker with something ineptly. My brother is outside fiddling around with his car engine. He should stop fiddling around and go out and get a job.
See also: around, fiddle

fiddle something away

to waste something. She fiddled the afternoon away. Don't fiddle away the afternoon. Get to work.
See also: away, fiddle

fiddle while Rome burns

Fig. to do nothing or something trivial while knowing that something disastrous is happening. (From a legend that the Roman emperor Nero played the lyre while Rome was burning.) The lobbyists don't seem to be doing anything to stop this tax bill. They're fiddling while Rome burns.
See also: burn, fiddle, Rome

fiddle with someone or something

to tinker or play with someone or something. Please don't fiddle with the stereo controls. Leave your brother alone. Don't fiddle with him. He's cranky.
See also: fiddle

*fit as a fiddle

Cliché in very good health. (*Also: as ~.) You may feel sick now, but after a few days of rest and plenty of liquids, you'll be fit as a fiddle. Grandson: Are you sure you'll be able to climb all these stairs? Grandmother: Of course! I feel as fit as a fiddle today.
See also: fiddle, fit

hang something up

to return the telephone receiver to its cradle. (See also hang it up.) Please hang this up when I pick up the other phone. Please hang up the phone.
See also: hang, up

hang up

1. [for a machine or a computer] to grind to a halt; to stop because of some internal complication. Our computer hung up right in the middle of printing the report. I was afraid that my computer would hang up permanently.
2. to replace the telephone receiver after a call; to terminate a telephone call. I said good-bye and hung up. Please hang up and place your call again.
See also: hang, up

hang up

 (on someone or something)
1. and hang up (in someone's ear) to end a telephone call by returning the receiver to the cradle while the other party is still talking. She hung up on me! I had to hang up on all that rude talk.
2. to give up on someone or something; to quit dealing with someone or something. Finally, I had to hang up on Jeff. I can't depend on him for anything. We hung up on them because we knew we couldn't make a deal.
See also: hang, up

have more than one string to one's fiddle

Rur. to have many talents. Joe has more than one string to his fiddle. He's a good painter, and he also cooks and fixes cars. This job involves a lot of different duties. We'll need to hire someone who has more than one string to his fiddle.
See also: fiddle, have, more, one, string

play second fiddle (to someone)

Fig. to be in a subordinate position to someone. I'm tired of playing second fiddle to John. I'm better trained than he, and I have more experience. I shouldn't always play second fiddle.
See also: fiddle, play, second

There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

Prov. Old people can be very capable. Just because Nigel is old doesn't mean he's useless. There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle.
See also: fiddle, good, many, old, play, tune

fiddle away something

also fiddle something away
to waste time doing nothing in particular Billy fiddles away hours on end arranging his model cars.
See also: away, fiddle

fiddle with something

1. to be busy with something without a special purpose fool with something Don't fiddle with the remote control - you'll break it!
2. to try to fix or use something complicated fool with something The report says that computer users spend about one-third of their time fiddling with the operating system and organizing files.
Related vocabulary: fuss with something
See also: fiddle

hang up

to end a telephone connection I can't think of his name, but it'll come to me as soon as we hang up.
See also: hang, up

play second fiddle (to somebody/something)

to be in a less important position than someone or something else Radio has been playing second fiddle to television for decades now.
Usage notes: sometimes used without play
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of second fiddle (the lower part for a violin, a musical instrument with strings)
See also: fiddle, play, second

be on the fiddle

  (British & Australian informal)
to get money in a way that is not honest or not legal If he's not on the fiddle, how did he afford that huge car?
See also: fiddle

fiddle while Rome burns

to spend time enjoying yourself or doing things that are not important when you should be dealing with a serious problem
Usage notes: This phrase comes from a story about the Roman emperor Nero, who fiddled (= played the violin) while the city of Rome was burning.
Environmentalists claim that the government is fiddling while Rome burns.
See also: burn, fiddle, Rome

be as fit as a fiddle

  (British, American & Australian) also be as fit as a flea (British & Australian)
to be very healthy My Dad's nearly eighty now but he's as fit as a fiddle.
See also: fiddle, fit

play second fiddle

if you play second fiddle to someone, they are in a stronger position or are more important than you (usually + to ) You'll have to choose between your wife and me. I won't play second fiddle to anyone.
See also: fiddle, play, second

fiddle while Rome burns

Occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect important ones during a crisis. For example, The account was falling through, but he was more worried about missing his golf game-talk about fiddling while Rome burns! This expression alludes to the legend that the Emperor Nero played his fiddle while watching the conflagration of Rome. [Mid-1600s]
See also: burn, fiddle, Rome

fit as a fiddle

In excellent form or health. For example, He's not just recovered, he's fit as a fiddle. The original allusion of this simile has been lost. Its survival is probably due to the pleasant sound of its alliteration. [Early 1600s]
See also: fiddle, fit

hang up

1. Suspend on a hook or hanger, as in Let me hang up your coat for you. [c. 1300]
2. Also, hang up on. Replace a telephone receiver in its cradle; end a phone conversation. For example, She hung up the phone, or He hung up on her. [Early 1900s]
3. Delay or hinder; also, become halted or snagged, as in Budget problems hung up the project for months, or Traffic was hung up for miles. [Second half of 1800s]
4. Have or cause to have emotional difficulties, as in Being robbed at gunpoint can hang one up for years to come. [Slang; early 1900s]
5. hung up on. Obsessed with, as in For years the FBI was hung up on Communist spies. [First half of 1900s]
6. hang up one's sword or gloves or fiddle . Quit, retire, as in He's hanging up his sword next year and moving to Florida. The noun in these expressions refers to the profession one is leaving- sword for the military, gloves for boxing, and fiddle for music-but they all are used quite loosely as well, as in the example.
7. hang up one's hat. Settle somewhere, reside, as in "Eight hundred a year, and as nice a house as any gentleman could wish to hang up his hat in" (Anthony Trollope, The Warden, 1855).
See also: hang, up

play second fiddle

Assume a subsidiary role to someone, as in Mary resented always playing second fiddle to her older sister. This term alludes to the part of second violin in an orchestra. Although many would argue it is as important as first violin, it is the idea of subordinacy that was transferred in the figurative term, so used since about 1800.
See also: fiddle, play, second

fiddle around

To act foolishly, playfully, or without a clear sense of purpose: If you don't stop fiddling around and start working, we'll never get home.
See also: around, fiddle

fiddle away

To waste or squander some period of time: I fiddled away the afternoon surfing the Internet. The lazy student fiddled the night away instead of doing homework.
See also: away, fiddle

fiddle with

1. To make unskilled or experimental efforts at repairing or improving something: I fiddled with the broken toaster, but I couldn't fix it.
2. To manipulate something without a clear sense of purpose: Stop fiddling with the remote or you'll break it.
See also: fiddle

hang up

1. To suspend something on a hook or hanger: Please hang your jacket up in the closet. I hung up my bathrobe on the hook.
2. To replace a telephone receiver on its base or cradle: I hung up the phone and returned to my chores. Will you hang that phone up and get back to your homework?
3. To end a telephone conversation: I said goodbye to my mother and hung up.
4. To delay or impede something; hinder something: Budget problems hung up the project for months. Squabbling hung the contract talks up for weeks.
5. To become snagged or hindered: The fishing line hung up on a rock.
6. To stop doing or participating in some activity: They are planning to hang up their law practice after 40 years. Trying to find your keys in the snow is a lost cause—you might as well hang it up.
7. Slang To have emotional difficulties or inhibitions. Used passively: If you weren't so hung up about your job, you'd be more fun to be around.
8. Slang To be obsessed or consumed with something. Used passively: I'm still hung up on that sale I missed last week.
See also: hang, up

belly fiddle

n. a guitar. Listen to that guy play that belly fiddle!
See also: belly, fiddle

hang up

1. n. a problem or concern; an obsession. (Usually hang-up.) She’s got some serious hang-ups about cats.
2. in. to say no; to cancel out of something. If you don’t want to do it, just hang up. I’ll understand.
See also: hang, up


and fiddle-fart
in. to waste time; to do something ineffectually or inefficiently. (A blend of monkey around and fart around.) Stop monkey-farting and get over here and get to work. He wasted his time fiddle-farting, and never got the job done.



second fiddle

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!
See also: fiddle, second

second fiddle

Play a less important role. In an orchestra or string quartet, music produced by the second violin(s) tends to play more of a supportive harmonic role than the more melodically prominent first violin player(s) play. By extension, “second fiddle” is a companion whose role is less recognized than the person who gets the credit.
See also: fiddle, second
References in classic literature ?
The music had started up, and half a block away you could hear the dull "broom, broom" of a cello, with the squeaking of two fiddles which vied with each other in intricate and altitudinous gymnastics.
Here the fiddle went very softly for a while by itself, and then:
On his lap lay the big fiddle, at which he was scraping, out of all time and tune, with both hands, making a great show, the nincompoop
At last he went to the judge, and complained that a rascal had robbed him of his money, and beaten him into the bargain; and that the fellow who did it carried a bow at his back and a fiddle hung round his neck.
Captain Jim told tales, and Marshall Elliott sang old Scotch ballads in a fine tenor voice; finally Captain Jim took down his old brown fiddle from the wall and began to play.
This seemed quite natural (she remembered afterwards), and she was not even surprised to hear music playing: it seemed to come from the tree under which they were dancing, and it was done (as well as she could make it out) by the branches rubbing one across the other, like fiddles and fiddle-sticks.
Thus the famous author of Hurlothrumbo told a learned bishop, that the reason his lordship could not taste the excellence of his piece was, that he did not read it with a fiddle in his hand; which instrument he himself had always had in his own, when he composed it.
Irritated voices were ascending through the skylight and through the fiddle of the stokehold in a harsh and resonant uproar, mingled with angry clangs and scrapes of metal, as if men with limbs of iron and throats of bronze had been quarrelling down there.
The band consisted of a fiddle, a clarionet, and a flageolet from the Blind Asylum.
We shall get you through sa, like a fiddle, and hope a please you when we get you through sa.
Moreover, a most wretched fiddle played within; a fiddle so unutterably vile, that one lean long-bodied cur, with a better ear than the rest, found himself under compulsion at intervals to go round the corner and howl.
Their outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and many other instruments of music, unknown to us in Europe.
Through this floating, fusty DEBRIS of peat and hay, mixed with the perspirations and warmth of the dancers, and forming together a sort of vegeto-human pollen, the muted fiddles feebly pushed their notes, in marked contrast to the spirit with which the measure was trodden out.
The players were not tin, being just ordinary Winkies; but the instruments they played upon were all tin--tin trumpets, tin fiddles, tin drums and cymbals and flutes and horns and all.
From the rooms came a constant, steady hum, as from a hive, and the rustle of movement; and while on the landing between trees they gave last touches to their hair and dresses before the mirror, they heard from the ballroom the careful, distinct notes of the fiddles of the orchestra beginning the first waltz.