playing second fiddle

playing second fiddle


  • to play a secondary or minor role with regards to someone else
  • to be regarded as less important or be in a weak position when compared to someone else
  • to be a subordinate to someone or take a backseat when it concerns that person

Example Sentences

  1. Sheila was determined to be the star of the show and she was not going to play second fiddle to anyone.
  2. Martha is always in her sister’s shadow, playing second fiddle to her every time.
  3. After the star guest didn’t turn up, John was chosen to play second fiddle.
  4. The new boy band is distinct and determined not to play second fiddle to any other group.
  5. I will never play a second fiddle to my sister.


This idiom originated from the early days of orchestra. So in the orchestra, there is a first violinist who plays the melody and is regarded as a prominent or lead violinist. Then there is the role of the second violin who leads the group of second violins that play a supportive role to the lead violinist. These second group came to be referred to as second fiddles and that is where the idiom originates from.

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Meaning: have a private or selfish reason for doing something

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