• fiddlestick •
Pronunciation: fid-êl-stik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, Interjection
Meaning: 1. The bow for playing a fiddle. 2. Something truly insignificant. 3. (Plural) An interjection indicating annoyance.
Notes: We seldom use this word in its original sense; that sense has been replaced by bow. The other two meanings are still current, an insignificant trifle and the interjection, Fiddlesticks!
In Play: As mentioned before, we don't use today's Good Word much any more, but here is the way we once used it: "Ezra always carried a spare fiddlestick in his case should he get carried away and break the first one amidst his fiery fiddling." The interjection, too, is spoken more often by our grandparents when they say things like: "Oh, fiddlesticks! I think I've lost my mobile telephone."
Word History: In Old English today's word was fiðele, related to Old High German fidula, which worked its way into Modern German as Fiedel. Medieval Latin probably borrowed the Old High German word, converting it into vitula "stringed instrument", which ended up in French as viola, hence violin. So, violin is derived from an ancestor of fiddle rather than vice versa. While violin is usually reserved for serious music, fiddle is generally used for joyful folk music such as the jig and the square dance. This explains its appearance in such playful words as fiddlesticks, fiddle-faddle, and fiddledeedee. (Oh, fiddlesticks! I almost forgot to thank Kathleen McCune in Norway for suggesting today's playful Good Word.)