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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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.Rs. 1991 Bess Ross Those Other Times 88:
"Come to me," her father said and her mother folded the clothes. John Clark was in his chair, deedling little Dan on his knee.
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). Phr. to play diddle.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.
Lnk. 1822 Clydesdale Wedding (Chapbook) 4:
He was to play them the fiddle, But some o' them fill'd him sae drunk, That he scarcely could gar it play 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 4 Feb 2023 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/diddle_v1_n1>

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