Definition of diddle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdidl/


1 [with object] (usually be diddled) Cheat or swindle (someone) so as to deprive them of something: he thought he’d been diddled out of his change
More example sentences
  • He was diddled out of his legacy, started with nothing but red ink in Adelaide, and now owns half the world.
  • We share part of the journey along her local high street and she points to the shop where she was diddled out of £15 when buying a pair of flip-flops - she was too timid to go back and challenge staff after discovering she'd been short-changed.
  • Disgust and anger were widespread in the labour movement this week as more workers were diddled out of their entitlements in a corporate sleight-of-hand.
1.1Deliberately falsify (something): he diddled his income tax returns
2 [no object] chiefly North American Pass time aimlessly or unproductively: why diddle around with slow costly tests?
More example sentences
  • A quick glance at the digital car clock told him that it was currently 9: 30 pm; they had spent a long time diddling around the studio without noticing the time flying by.
  • How many bad fantasy and horror movies does a person have to see to realize diddling around with this kind of stuff is a bad idea?
  • So I've been diddling about with the audio from my Arkansas trip.
2.1 (diddle with) Play or mess with: he diddled with the graphics on his computer
More example sentences
  • I sat there diddling with my mental abacus for a bit and came up with a grand total of 14.
  • I mean, that's saying look, I diddled with a lounge singer, or whatever it was.
  • And some people want to allow this same smirking pampered elitist hypocrite to diddle with the U.S. Constitution?
3 [with object] vulgar slang, chiefly North American Have sexual intercourse with (someone).
Originally in Scots dialect use in the sense 'jerk from side to side', apparently corresponding to dialect didder 'tremble'



Example sentences
  • It has become the profession of public office seekers, title hunters, social pushers, dollar diddlers, mountebanks and cads.
  • Some are kiddie diddlers, those so unhappy, so hungry, they're willing to take that repeated fatal risk.
  • With a little more prudence Dick Turpin would have made a good diddler.


Early 19th century: probably from the name of Jeremy Diddler, a character in the farce Raising the Wind (1803) by the Irish dramatist James Kenney (1780–1849). Diddler constantly borrowed and failed to repay small sums of money: the name may have been based on an earlier verb diddle 'walk unsteadily, swerve'.

  • In the farce Raising the Wind (1803) by the Irish dramatist James Kenney, the character Jeremy Diddler constantly borrows and fails to repay small sums of money. The informal term diddle, ‘to swindle or cheat’, appeared soon after the play's production, and is probably testimony to the impact the character made. The name Diddler may be based on an earlier word diddle (more often daddle) meaning ‘to walk unsteadily’.

Words that rhyme with diddle

fiddle, griddle, kiddle, Liddell, middle, piddle, riddle, twiddle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: did·dle

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