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1. to touch something, make small adjustments to something in order to improve it
e.g. “Jeff’s in the garage, fiddling around with his motorbike”
“Who’s been fiddling about with my computer? The settings are all wrong!”
2. to move your fingers, or touch something with your fingers in a repetitive way because you’re bored, nervous or thinking about something else
“She was fiddling around with her pen during the job interview, and it didn’t give a good impression. She seemed nervous or distracted”

It’s Saturday. It’s 6:38 p.m. It’s time for Luke’s phrasal verb of a day.

…and, today’s phrasal verb is to FIDDLE AROUND or TO FIDDLE ABOUT



Several meanings.

The first one means to kind of – touch, move or change something many times in order to improve or make it work better. It’s a synonym to MESS AROUND WITH something.


– “Have you been FIDDLING AROUND WITH the DVD player again?” Yeah! It’s not working”

Okay? “TO FIDDLE AROUND WITH the DVD player”

– “Have you been FIDDLING AROUND WITH the DVD player?”

– “Who’s been FIDDLING AROUND WITH my computer?”, for example.


[SPK1] – “What’s Jeff doing?”
[SPK2] – “He’s in the garage just FIDDLING AROUND WITH his motorbike”


– “Hey! how’s…, how…”, I’ll start in again.

[SPK1] – “How…, how are you?”
[SPK2] – “I’m fine.”
[SPK1] – “What have you been doing today?”
[SPK2] – “Oh, I’ve just been in the workshop. I’ve just been sort of FIDDLING ABOUT WITH the time machine”
[SPK1] – “Oh? Yeah? Any luck? Is it working yet?”
[SPK2] – “No, it’s still stuck in the present. I have managed to get the time machine to kind of…, all I can get it to do is move forwards in time at exactly the same speed as the normal time goes.
[SPK1] – “So you mean, it doesn’t work?”
[SPK2] – “Yeah. That’s right. But I’m gonna keep FIDDLING ABOUT WITH it. I’ll just make a few adjustments. Hopefully we will be going back to the future at some point.”

Okay? Right! Good.

Now, (the) second meaning is to kind of touch something or move something with many small quick movements of your fingers, because you’re bored.


So, if you’ve got, like, a pen and you’re … do you know what I mean? You’re kinda like … FIDDLING AROUND WITH something like that. If you’ve heard the podcast I did recently with my brother, it was called “A Skype Chat With My Brother”. He kept kind of FIDDLING AROUND WITH things on his desk and it was making a distracting noise. So, it means to, yeah, constantly move things with your hands or fingers in a small way, because you’re bored or nervous or you’re sort of concentrating on something else.

So, for example, if you’re going to a job interview and you’re probably quite nervous. You might be sitting on a bus, and you might be kind of FIDDLING AROUND WITH the bus ticket, because you’re nervous. You might be folding it, tearing or something like that, kinda FIDDLING AROUND WITH it absent-mindedly.


It’s a synonym of the word FIDGET.

TO FIDGET WITH something.

– “Stop FIDGETING. Just, just, stop moving, and just relax. Alright?”


There you go.


That’s the end of this episode. This two minute, almost three minute episode.

I’ll speak to you tomorrow.

Have a fantastic Saturday!