Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DIDDLE, Didle, Deedle, v.1, n.1

I. v. To move with short quick movements from side to side or up and down.

1. To dance with a jigging movement. Also fig. Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems 295:
How pleasant was't to see thee didle, And dance sae finely to his Fiddle.
Bnff. 1847  A. Cumming Tales (1896) 3:
Since wily Guizot gar'd them diddle, To young Montpensier's Spanish fiddle!
Abd. 1922  J. P. Macgillivray Bog-Myrtle 26:
The first to string our Norland fiddle An' bowin' fore an' aft the middle, Gar grave and gay play jink and diddle Wi' variorum.
Per. 1773  A. Gray in
R. Fergusson Poems (ed. Grosart 1879) 76:
Your canty letter was the tien That gard me diddle.
Rnf. 1807  R. Tannahill Poems 92:
An' wi' your clarion, flute, an' fiddle, Will gar their southron heart-strings diddle.

2. tr. and intr. To move (the elbow) to and fro in fiddling, hence, to fiddle. Vbl.n. diddlin, a fiddling, a jingle. Sc. 1893  R. L. Stevenson Catriona xv.:
And there would be a fiddler diddling his elbock in the chimney-side.
Sc.(E) 1936  J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 69:
Oor modern music, dreepy diddlins.
Bnff. a.1829  J. Sellar Poems (1844) 28:
He near han' gar'd the sclate stanes dance Whan he began to diddle.
Edb. 1843  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet 54:
Then link an' laugh awa' While my elbows diddle.
Ayr. 1789  Burns Second Ep. to Davie (Cent. ed.) ii.:
Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle! Lang may your elbuck jink an' diddle.
Rxb. 1811  A. Scott Poems 34:
In his profession he had right good luck At bridals his elbo' to diddle.

3. To keep time to dance-music with the feet. Also found in Lan. dial. Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Rhymes 7:
Wi' fiddling, and diddling, and dancing, The house was in perfect uproar.

4. To dandle a child (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 38; Fif. 1825 Jam.2). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Cf. Doodle. Abd. 1924  Leebie's Wooin in Swatches 77:
To her grand-children, fondly “diddled” upon her knee, she tells many a tale.

Hence deedley(-ie) in combs.: (1) deedley-dumplin', a term of endearment for a child; (2) deedlie-wag, “a droll, frisky little person” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). (1) Kcb. 1890  A. J. Armstrong Musings 143:
Bless its wee bonny rosy face! it's mammie's deedley-dumplin'.

II. n.

1. A short jerky lively tune, “a jingle of music” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2). Sc. 1929  L. Spence in Holyrood (ed. W. H. Hamilton) 174:
Awa' wi' yer diddles on the pipes and the fiddles, Awa' wi' yer ballats and yer flings sae free!
Ags. 1867  G. W. Donald Poems 265:
Wi' a souff an a diddle.
Kcb. 1806  J. Train Poet. Reveries 119:
In their ears it is a diddle, Like the sounding of a fiddle.

2. A dandle (Abd.27 1949). Bnff. 1900  E.D.D.:
Gee the bairn a diddle on yir knee.

[An alternative freq. form to Didder, q.v.]

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"Diddle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Dec 2018 <>



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