fiddley deck

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fiddley deck

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:47 am

Help. In the bar the other night one of our thirsty group of ships engineers asked the if anyone was aware of the origins of the term "fiddley deck". All present were aware of what and where this deck was but no one knew where and when the term came from. Please help as there may be a free drink for the correct answer.
Submitted by Paul O'Brien-Hill (Vancouver - Canada)
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fiddley deck

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:01 am

.. just thought I would put the following in print so that others, who are not seamen, will know of where we speak >>>

fiddley 1. space above boiler; 2. funnel casing
Fiddley Deck
A partially raised deck over the engine and boiler rooms, always around the smokestack, to let the hot air and fumes escape.
.. no hint of where it originated though ..
WoZ of Aus 01/12/04
Reply from Wizard of Oz (Newcastle - Australia)
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fiddley deck

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jan 08, 2005 8:49 am

Paul, The OED and M-W define ‘fiddley’ as follows: “The iron framework round the deck opening that leads to the stoke-hole of a steamer; usually covered by a grating of iron bars; the space below this.” They give no derivation, but the answer appears to me to be pretty straightforward.

‘Fiddley’ is most likely a variation on the word ‘fiddle’ an 18th-century term that occurs in a number of nautical usages as well as an alternate name for a violin (see posting ‘fiddle’).

The dining saloon table on a ship had ‘fiddles’ (a rack, railing, ledge, barrier) on it to prevent crockery, cutlery, etc. from sliding off as the ship pitched and rolled. And the ‘fiddle head’ on a ship was the carved scrollwork at the bow, similar to the scrolled end of a violin. In fact, it is not difficult to imagine that nautical ‘fiddles’ got there name from their resemblance to the fretboard/strings of a violin. And considering that a ‘fiddley’ is defined as an iron framework, usually covered by a grating of iron bars, it is equally not difficult to imagine how it got ITS name. It should also be noted that, probably related to playing the violin, fiddling also means to make trifling or fussing movements with the hands, which is related to a corruption of ‘fiddling’ known as ‘faddling.’ And 'faddling' not only meant to caress a child, but in the prehistoric time of my youth, also meant what was known as ‘petting’ (see posting ‘faddling - 18th century petting’).

And BTW a ‘fiddley-did’ is the Australian slang expression for one pound or a one pound note. However, this has nothing to do with the above and violins, and derives from the fact that it is rhyming slang for ‘quid,’ one pound sterling.
<1881 “The coverings of the FIDLEYS or openings to the stoke hole.”—‘Standard,’ 17 November, page 2/3>

<1885 “A few men were crouching in the FIDDLEY”—‘Skippers & Shellbacks, by H. Runciman, page 1> [a ‘shellback’ is a veteran sailor]

<1893 “They have had to sleep amidst the ‘FIDDLIES’ around the engine boilers.”—‘Westminster Gazette,’ 1 February, page 4/2>
(Ship to Shore by Jeans, A Sea of Words by King, Random House and Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionaries, Oxford English Dictionary)

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