It’s week two of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and it’s time for an interesting f phrase. After a successful Paris Marathon yesterday, the expression fit as a fiddle has unsurprisingly cropped up in conversation more than once, but what exactly is fit about a fiddle?
It seems like a bit of a mystery. The first thing to consider is the fact that fit only developed the sense of ‘in good condition’ in the 1800s. Before that it meant ‘convenient, becoming, proper’ and since fit as a fiddle dates back to at least the 1610s the expression must have originally referred to convenience rather than good condition. Which makes sense because right as a fiddle was an alternative used in 1595.
Perhaps a fiddle was considered fit because it was a popular instrument or because it required a skilled musician to play one or a skilled craftsman to make one.
Another phrase common at that time was used to talk about someone who was well-liked and they would be said to have a face made of a fiddle. This was an allusion to the curves in a fiddle which supposedly look like smiles. So perhaps fit as a fiddle is also associated with this phrase and, as is often the case, it has been helped along by the pleasant-sounding alliteration.