Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
DIDDLE, DEEDLE, v.2, n.2 Also didle.
1. v. To sing in a rather low-pitched key without words, gen. as an accompaniment to dancing (Sh.10 1949; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 38; Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Fif.10 (deedle) 1940; Edb.3, Ayr.4 1928; Kcb.10 1940, deedle). Vbl.n. diddlin(g), deedlin. Obs. since early 18th cent. in Eng. but still found in n.Eng. dial.
Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 104:
Although I canna join the choir, I'll hooch an' diddle. Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Back o' Benachie 52:
If no better musical instrument was to be had, “playing on the kame,” or “didlin',” was resorted to . . . for Scotch reels. Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 45:
A mither's diddlin' till her bairn can bring The sleep that flees fae fussle, trumpe or string. Ags. 1940 17 :
Diddling competitions were advertised and held throughout Angus in 1936–39. Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
Deedle denotes an intermediate key between cruning or humming, and lilting, which signifies lively singing.
Hence diddler, a person who can diddle an accompaniment for dancing (Bnff.2 1940; Ags. 1931 J. D. Simpson in Abd. Press and Jnl. (15 Jan.)).
Bnff. 1949 Bnffsh. Jnl. (29 Nov.):
Francie was a lusty singer, and a remarkable diddler. Diddling the “Braes o' Mar,” his head and whole body nodded, swung and swayed in unison to the uttered and stressed vocables. Ayr. 1928 4 :
Accomplished “diddlers” or “doodlers” often laid one hand flat on the knees and kept smiting it with the other hand to emphasise the time for the dancers.
2. n. A tune without words in a rather low-pitched key (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 38; Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 23). Comb.: deedle-doodle, (1) “a meaningless lilt, rhyme, or song, run over in nurse fashion” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6); (2) “a badly-played tune on a flute, violin, or other instrument” (Ib.).[Onomat. formations, phs. influenced by Doudle, q.v.]
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"Diddle v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Mar 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/diddle_v2_n2>
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