Green’s Dictionary of Slang

diddle v.2

1. to cheat or swindle, to victimize, to ‘do’; ext. to diddle out of [? diddler, a swindler, fraud, itself f. Jeremy Diddler, the chief character in James Kenney’s farce Raising the Wind (1803) and ult. f. diddle v.1 or OE didrian, dydrian, to deceive, delude].

[US]‘Andrew Barton’ Disappointment I iii: Oh, how joyful shall I be, / When I get de money. / I will bring it all to dee; / Oh, my diddling honey.
[UK]Reading Mercury 3 May 4/2: What! a bribe —out of my stall or by gingo I’ll stick my awl to the head in your —. I am Sir Bilberry Diddle, Knight and Baronet of Diddle Hall.
[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie I iv: Your uncle is the man I mean [...] That diddled me out of my crown and queen.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 1: Whatsoever employs your magnificent nobs, / Whether diddling your subjects, and gutting their fobs.
[UK]Byron Don Juan canto XI line 133: A thorough varmint and a real swell, Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled, His pockets first, and then his body riddled.
[US]Ely’s Hawk and Buzzard (N.Y.) 8 Sept. 1/4: Away we rattled over the stones, arrived at the door out popped the lovers, in popped my gentleman and lady and I got diddled out of my carriage hire. What can I do in such a case? he is a confectioner, and she is a OH DEAR.
[UK]Thackeray Yellowplush Papers in Works III (1898) 321: Recklecting the sean betwixgst him and master, whom he wanted to diddil out of a thowsand lb.
[US]Morning Courier and N.-Y. Enquirer 2/4: [A man] was set upon by three noted burners, who by dint of practicing the usual burning process, diddled [him] out of $50 of his money.
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy 122: So, Egan diddled you?
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Apr. 1/1: Diddling the Treasury out of a cool £50 or £100, by way of ‘hush’ or ‘withdrawal money’.
[UK]Sam Sly 27 Jan. 2/2: We consider you a sharper. How about the lighterman of Bermondsey you diddled of £60 and a barge?
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ G’hals of N.Y. 74: He decided on learning to whom he owed the favor of being thus handsomely diddled.
[UK]G. Meredith Evan Harrington I 197: They all move our pity. That’s how they get over us. She has diddled you, and she would diddle me, and diddle us all — diddle the devil, I dare say.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 June 3/2: It was a banyan day for me, / When I met Polly Liddle, / For had I been safe out at sea, / Poor Jack she could not diddle.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch 21 June 6/2: i should be up a tree in no time, reggerly diddled; in fact, to use the languidge of the classics, floored, i.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 319: It’s the cove what diddled me out of the diamonds.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 6/2: Mr. Barnes will certainly be hanged, because otherwise the thing would have a tame ending, and the Melbourne mob would be naturally indignant at being diddled out of their little cold drawn body.
[UK]H. Nisbet ‘Bail Up!’ 191: I thought we should diddle the bobbies!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 12 Jan. 232: They were even burning to tell the other fellows how they had diddled old Holman.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Aug. 11/3: The unrest mentioned in the daily press as existing among the inmates arises from the idea that they are being ‘diddled’ somehow out of the first month’s money, due on 1st Aug.
[UK]C. Nicol ‘Kate McFluffle’ Poems 77: A’ the clachan sune got word / Hoo puir Jamie had been diddled.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 7 Feb. 6/3: Chauffeur Diddled for Nine Hours’ Fare.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper XL:3 140: We will take it out of him if he has diddled us.
[US]E. Pound letter 11 Nov. in Paige (1971) 201: C.G.C. is now sittin in a sailor’s boardin house in Frisco, with 20 millions and not a gawddamn idea what to do with same (but firmly and rightly determined not to be diddled).
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 339: You’ve heard tell of many a one that’s been swindled, diddled and robbed.
[UK]Film Fun 8 Sept. 24: It’s worked. I’ve diddled him!
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 239: It wouldn’t have been wise to let the Professor know how Sara had diddled me.
[UK]Oh Boy! No. 24 12: I’ve been done! Not to say diddled!
[UK]A. Buckeridge Speaking of Jennings (1989) 136: You diddled me out of my half-sovereign.
[UK]Flame : a Life on the Game 79: She would make sure that the club wasn’t diddling me, by keeping an eye on exactly what my clients and I would consume.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 17 July 20: Diddling the public! An outrage!
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 6 Feb. 36: There was a manager trying to diddle me out of £24,000.
[UK]I. Rankin Fleshmarket Close (2005) 402: He still thinks this is about diddling the council.

2. to waste time; thus diddle away, to waste time [fig. use of SE diddle, to jerk from side to side, to quiver].

[UK]W. Scott Journal (1890) I 250: Here is a fine spate of work — a day diddled away, and nothing to show for it!
[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:iv 304: diddle, v. To toddle, dawdle.
[US]R. Fisher Conjure-Man Dies 188: ‘Aw, boogy, go diddle,’ the accused said contemptuously.
[US]B. Hecht Sensualists (1961) 54: Elsie diddling around with her fishing tackle.
L. Hansberry Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (1969) I i: You mean diddle around with the little things since we can’t do anything about the big ones?
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 108: He diddles along for twenny years with this pissy-ass little operation.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 12: Something broke while you were diddling around. News, they call it.

3. to fail.

[UK]Comic Almanack Mar. 262: But ‘Shakespeare and friends’ are now no go; / No go, I say, but to go away. / They are struck entirely off the list; / For the whole concern has taken a twist. / It’s the Chamberlain’s pleasure, I vow, with pain, / And Shakespeare’s diddled at Drury Lane!

4. to do for, to ruin, to kill.

[Ire]Somerville & Ross Some Irish Yesterdays 117: He’s diddled now entirely!
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 700: The Boche has time to make Russia his feeding-ground and diddle our blockade.
[US]L. Bing Do or Die (1992) 199: We got a main enemy we diddlin’ with right now.