Definition of diddle in US English:



  • 1informal with object Cheat or swindle (someone) so as to deprive them of something.

    ‘he thought he'd been diddled out of his change’
    • ‘A few months ago, a father and son were done for diddling the taxman out of £250,000.’
    • ‘South Asia, where many people are illiterate, ignorant of their rights, and thus easily diddled, is the home of this system.’
    • ‘So, next time you feel stressed out, cut yourself some slack; we've been diddled out of ten hours a day the rest of the world takes for granted.’
    • ‘So stories about the doctor who sexually assaults patients, the accountant who gets done for fraud, or the lawyer who diddles clients out of large amounts of money, always seem to astound us and attract huge press coverage.’
    • ‘I don't give anybody my credit card numbers, and don't try to diddle me.’
    • ‘I seem to recall she was the one who diddled me out of 10 quid some time back.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The company which runs the Golden Arrow filling station has been landed with £5,600 in fines and costs after one of its pumps was shown to be diddling customers.’
    • ‘He was diddled out of his legacy, started with nothing but red ink in Adelaide, and now owns half the world.’
    • ‘They think we've diddled them out of their land.’
    • ‘Does he want proof that I am not trying to diddle the taxman?’
    • ‘However, DQ operators are still diddling consumers with two in ten punters still not being offered a refund when they complain about being given dud information.’
    • ‘What we want now is a bit of a focus by the estate agencies on how they can make sure that the environment doesn't get diddled in this process of opening our water market.’
    • ‘It could mean that a third party was involved in diddling MPs or that there was irregular practice by travel agents.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘More than 17,000 small businesses diddled employees of their superannuation last financial year, the Australian Taxation Office reported, last week.’
    • ‘Like everyone else, he was shocked to see her charming new husband dishing out dodgy advice and even trying to diddle Emily and the Duckworths out of their life-savings.’
    • ‘Make sure you take advice from a solicitor who will be able to tell you if an agency is trying to diddle you or not!’
    • ‘For two years the gang bought and sold mobile phones and diddled the Revenue out of an estimated £40m.’
    • ‘But the government still took away a huge chunk - this from a man who had fastidiously paid every tax and never diddled anyone out of anything.’
    swindle, defraud, cheat, fleece, exploit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Deliberately falsify (something)
      ‘he diddled his income tax returns’
      falsify, manipulate, massage, rig, distort, pervert, misrepresent, juggle, doctor, alter, tamper with, interfere with
      View synonyms
  • 2North American informal no object Pass time aimlessly or unproductively.

    ‘why diddle around with slow costly tests?’
    • ‘But she has garnered her MacArthur ‘genius’ fellowship, two concurrent academic chairs, and occasional movie roles, which should keep her solvent while she diddles away.’
    • ‘We fought World War Two for three struggling years while you diddled about not sure whether to trade with or bomb the Germans.’
    • ‘Henry may have fiddled and diddled, but at least he did not go out of his way to slag off an entire nation.’
    • ‘As we fiddle, and diddle and argue about this issue, it is going on in places like Europe and China and India and we could be falling behind here.’
    • ‘So let me get this straight you guys diddled around at Starbucks for an hour, so that by the time we got to Ironcore it was too late to stop him and he took off with the springs anyway, while ICBC tried to bomb him and us out of existence.’
    • ‘We don't have any intelligence on the other side. We have no idea what's going on - we're just in there diddling.’
    • ‘It was so completely not worth it to wait for someone that was diddling along without a care in the world, so he pushed the car into a fast speed; a fast speed that fed his impatience with everything he needed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So I've been diddling about with the audio from my Arkansas trip.’
    • ‘And it wasn't just the UN and governments that diddled.’
    • ‘I spent ages diddling about with my computer when I arrived.’
    • ‘The Constitution is burning, and these guys are fiddling and diddling!’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘It was no big deal loading the program, and I diddled around with it for an hour or so.’
    • ‘Now it fiddles, diddles and blathers in the face of acknowledged White House crime.’
    • ‘I diddled around as everyone waited, but I was baffled.’
    • ‘Here he says the city is still either diddling or dithering and anyway people only keep saying Munich because it's the only big one they've got to mention.’
    • ‘Henry gobbled down his lunch in the cafeteria and found Marc and Jim together diddling over their dessert, and joined them.’
    • ‘Why do they diddle and dawdle while real-life families suffer?’
    1. 2.1diddle with Play or mess with.
      ‘he diddled with the graphics on his computer’
      • ‘And some people want to allow this same smirking pampered elitist hypocrite to diddle with the U.S. Constitution?’
      • ‘I diddled with it and didn't notice much variance.’
      • ‘But no now I sit in my office diddling with the computer and sighing loud sighs, but unfortunately there's no one to hear them.’
      • ‘Though Kerry scored three goals to help Yale University's soccer team defeat Harvard in 1966, his Scottish soccer coach once told him not to ‘diddle with the ball,’ a scolding that led to the nickname ‘the Diddler.’’
      • ‘As mentioned above, there are certain severe caveats that all who diddle with love spells should heed.’
      • ‘I sat there diddling with my mental abacus for a bit and came up with a grand total of 14.’
      • ‘The telephone industry, which had been diddling with its own digital subscriber line high-speed standard, was left in the dust and is only now starting to catch up.’
      • ‘I mean, that's saying look, I diddled with a lounge singer, or whatever it was.’
      • ‘Stainton understands the inherent drama and suspense in diddling with deadly snakes and toothy reptiles.’
      • ‘Secure in their prominence, most of the bond ‘masters’ would even look askance at playing along with the rubber bullet ruse - leave that to those wannabes diddling with stocks, credit default swaps, or the emerging markets.’
  • 3North American vulgar slang with object Have sexual intercourse with (someone).


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 be based on an earlier verb diddle ‘walk unsteadily’.