Lately I have become aware of how the word fiddle can string you along. I already wrote about fiddle-dee-dee used as an expression of uselessness. But since then, I have become aware of its use in other strange curious circumstances, again having nothing to do with a fiddle being a string instrument.

For instance, what is with the whole “Fit as a Fiddle” idiom. Are fiddles so intrinsically strong as to inspire comparison to rude health? Fiddles, being non-animal objects have no reason to be associated with health in any way. Granted they don’t get sick, age, wrinkle or go senile. But then again why would anyone expect them to. However, for some reason, the expression is universally recognized as a positive review of your good health and well-being. What gives with that?

In early spring, the Fiddle Head Ferns match the lovely shape of all the string associates of fiddles … violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. So, the use of the word is understandable. But why should fiddling around be synonymous with fidgeting or wasting time? Let us be clear, If I spend the afternoon fiddling about, I am not on the fiddle. That is another kettle of fish entirely. And once again, the reason escapes me.

Then there is the ever-dubious occupation of fiddling the books. Another instance of an idiom having a rather questionable association with reality. However, I do wonder if, in this instance, the fast fingering of a good fiddle player might have given rise to the concept of a crooked accountant being light-fingered, and so able to cook the books.

Speaking of odd idioms … I suppose there must be any number of recipes for cooking the books. But how? Does one use a pressure cooker? A frying pan? A sauce pan? In preparation for cooking, does one coat the books in the same oil used to grease palms, or should one use a Teflon coated surface to keep clean-up to a minimum? And instead of books, is one left with a mess of pottage like that faux Cracker-Jack concoction, Fiddle-Faddle?

However, the best part of all this is the list of synonyms for fiddle. It is such an interesting list of words.

To falsify, manipulate, massage, rig, distort, pervert, misrepresent, juggle, doctor, alter, tamper with, interfere with, cook, fix, diddle, finagle, flimflam, or cook the books.

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