also fiddlehead, "one with a head as hollow as a fiddle," 1854 (fiddleheaded), from fiddle (n.) + head (n.). As a name for young fern fronds, from 1877, from resemblance to a violin's scroll. Earliest use is nautical, "carved ornamental work at the bow of a ship in the form of a scroll or volute" (1799).
There are three kinds of heads,--1st The Figure-head is one on which is placed the figure of a man, woman, or the like, &c.; 2d, The Billet-head, or Scroll-head is one finished with two scrolls or volutes ...; and 3d, the Fiddle-head, which is finished with only one scroll or volute, having the spirals turning inwards to the vessel. [Peter Hedderwick, "Treatise on Marine Architecture," Edinburgh, 1830]
1. Police investigating a £10 million car insurance fiddle arrested 16 people yesterday.
2. Two of them got out to fiddle around with the engine.
3. She hated the thought of playing second fiddle to Rose.
4. Hardy as a young man played the fiddle at local dances.
5. He brought out the fiddle, its varnish cracked and blistered.