play second fiddle

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play second fiddle

To have a subordinate, lesser, or smaller role, position, or part (in something). I'm really sick of playing second fiddle to this ignoramous—I'm the one who deserves to be the star of the show! Because I wasn't willing to play office politics, I never got the big promotion and have been playing second fiddle ever since.
See also: fiddle, play, second

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