play second fiddle

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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

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
I am that bloke but that doesn't mean I want to play second fiddle.
Men in Black cleaned up at the expense of Tech Tornadoes with an odd goal in seven triumph but The S Men had to play second fiddle in an 8- 3 defeat against The S Men.
Martyn has been left to rot in the reserves after refusing to go on the club's pre-season tour and is expected to ask for a move if he is forced to play second fiddle to Robinson
THE champion had to play second fiddle to a rare German raider at Warwick in the juvenile hurdle as 12-1 shot Eluna stayed on much too strongly for the Pipe-trained Reviewer.
The Valley has made it clear to the powers that be that it is fed up with being shortchanged, overcharged, gerrymandered and forced to play second fiddle to the special interests long accustomed to calling the tune at Los Angeles City Hall.
St Pats have drawn home advantage and will be hell bent on nailing down their place in the final having had to play second fiddle to Bohemians in the league.
Anelka has not featured since being called up to replace injured Sidney Govou in November 2002, but turned down the invitation claiming he did not want to play second fiddle.
ARSENAL may have bought only one player so far but Ray Parlour isn't worried about having to play second fiddle to big-spending London rivals Chelsea.
Mr Versatile' Blakemore was unable to overcome the challenge of Attleborough Libs' Don Wilson at the oche as he lost out 2-1 and when he turned his attentions to the tables and the don final he again had to play second fiddle to T Hodgkinson of Griff, who handed out a 2-0 defeat to his rival.
Easterby was thwarted in his bid to complete a double with Hilton Head in the six-furlong classified stakes when his 9-4 favourite had to play second fiddle to Princess Chloe, trained by Michael Jarvis.
BATTLING Brentford had to play second fiddle as Rotherham grabbed promotion with a late winner.
Yes, you faintly remember those days, back when intimacy didn't play second fiddle to changing the oil in the minivan and buying a season-end gift for the kids' soccer coach.
Celtic take their players to top quality hotels before matches, but just this once they may have to play second fiddle to their opponents when it comes to pre-match facilities.
He had to play second fiddle to England under-21 defender Lloyd Samuel before injuries to the likes of Steve Staunton and Ronny Johnsen led to his initial recall as a substitute against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
HIGHAM Lane battled bravely in the Nuneaton Schools under-12s Colin Jones Cup Final at Manor Park recently but had to play second fiddle to Alderman Smith in a 2-0 defeat.