"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 2 February 2009


Fiddlesticks is such a lovely word. It means 'Nonsense!' and is used as an interjection which expresses disbelief, disdain or annoyance.

A fiddlestick was the bow used in playing the violin (fiddle). Shakespeare used a proverb based on it in Henry IV: “the devil rides on a fiddle-stick”, meaning that a commotion has broken out. Around Shakespeare's time it also began to be used to mean something trivial or insignificant. As a contemptuous response to a remark it sems to have been first recorded in George Farquhar's play" Sir Henry Wildair" of 1701: “Golden pleasures! golden fiddlesticks!”.

1 comment:

  1. I found myself wondering the other day what the origin of this expression was (not that it was new to me, it just struck me that I didn't know why it was used to mean "nonsense"). Occurred to me now to try and find out, and started by searching your word blog... and found you'd already been there, done that... Thanks! ;)