to play second fiddle

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - play second fiddle

"to play second fiddle"

to be in a subordinate position


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - play second fiddle

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  We really need to boost sales on our new product line. We need to do whatever it takes to sell. That means we may need to cut the prices.

Colleague 2:  Cutting prices means that profits would decrease.

Colleague 1:  That's OK. To get our new products into the hands of consumers, profits will have to play second fiddle to sales.

Colleague 2:  OK. I've got it. Sales are supreme for the time being.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - play second fiddle

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  It is really frustrating sometimes being the younger sibling.

Friend 2:  I know what you mean. The older sibling always gets the attention.

Friend 1:  Everything they do is acknowledged and lauded and we younger siblings languish in the background no matter how great our achievements.

Friend 2:  I sure get tired of playing second fiddle.

to play second fiddle - Usage:


to play second fiddle - Gerund Form:

Playing second fiddle while someone else always gets the recognition can be frustrating.

to play second fiddle - Examples:

1)  ... is determined to keep its identity distinct and does not want to play second fiddle to any other party.

2)  ... refused an invitation to the opening ceremony last month, saying she would not play second fiddle to her replacement, ...

3)  However, the aggressive sales growth target may mean profitability continues to play second fiddle to sales growth.

4)  Would Melissa ever play second fiddle in her own home in deference to her husband's unyielding, narcissistic sister?

5)  Make a plan, and leave. Life is too short to play second fiddle to someone else's unhealthy obsession.

6)  Tonight he has the chance to show that he no longer has to play second fiddle to anyone.

7)  In today's European Union, the interests of smaller member states play second fiddle to domestic imperatives in France and Germany, ...

8)  ... in the hand of the man, as the women are left to play second fiddle to a larger plan.

9)  Know your worth. Don't play second fiddle in a relationship/marriage.

10)  His position is clear. Profit should play second fiddle to a genuine passion for what the company stands for. 

11)  Gandhi lost power in the 1989 elections, his party has had to play second fiddle in various ragtag coalitions.

12)  ... delegates to pay more attention to water, saying that it should not play second fiddle to energy.

13)  ... had been the leader of England's attack but will he now have to play second fiddle to his new-ball partner?

14)  ... to think like men and to practice a value hierarchy where feminine traits play second fiddle to and women are judged through a man's norm.

15)  Drake sounded marginalized, a star made to play second fiddle on songs that didn't suit him.

16)  ... best put-downs of any character in the series, but even he must play second fiddle to a dragon.

17)  ... you can really match Shakespeare's genius, so you just have to play second fiddle. I have no problem doing that. Only because I'm a fool, ...

18)  ... any point in the past two years and clearly isn't content to play second fiddle to anyone. 

19)  It's an open secret that Women's football will always play second fiddle to the Men's.

20)  ... transition as hero could mean that he would no longer be willing to play second fiddle to the heroes.