“Fit as a fiddle”

Professor Callaghan said this folk simile one morning in our kinesiology class titled “Sociopsychological Aspects of Sport.” He used the phrase while we were having a discussion on current events and names in sports at the beginning of class. The phrase was said in reference to how Tiger Woods, the professional golfer, is so fit and in such great shape. When he said this phrase, many of the students in the small class chuckled and murmured side comments to each other. However, everyone still understood the meaning conveyed by the saying, which emphasized the great physical condition that our professor believed Tiger Woods to be in. Therefore, although several students found the usage of the phrase to be humorous because it seemed a bit out of place, it was still effective. It also caused me personally to consider how fit Tiger Woods and other golfers are because when I think of fit and in-shape athletes I think of other sports such as football and basketball, but not golf. I never really considered how fit golfers have to be.

Professor Callaghan is a doctor as well as a professor at the University of Southern California. He believes that there is virtually no folklore in America and that it is mostly all from England. He first heard this phrase when he was a little boy in England. He often uses the phrase “fit as a fiddle” to describe or to compliment his son when they play tennis together. Professor explained that he also uses it to refer to other people who can continue to play and perform and when people show their fitness. He believes that every student should be in good physical shape.

Professor has also heard a great number of other phrases like this one including “as loud as a drum,” “beautiful as a rose,” “as high as a kite,” “swimming like a fish,” or “as happy as a sandboy.”  Then, Professor wondered aloud what a sandboy was. He concluded that it was probably a kid playing in the sand. Professor also wondered, “How fit is a fiddle?” He explained that some of these phrases do not make literal sense but they are comparisons to emphasize a particular point.

There is a reference to the folk metaphor “fit as a fiddle” in the1952 Hollywood movie Singin’ in the Rain. There is a scene within the movie in which two characters, Don and Cosmo, “perform a very physical routine full of slap-stick and comic violence in a burlesque house” (Chumo 41). Then “the scene dissolves to a song-and-dance routine to ‘Fit as a Fiddle’” (Chumo 41). During this routine the two characters dance around very energetically while playing fiddles. This is a play on the metaphor displaying the literal side of it, which is shown by the inclusion of the fiddles, and the metaphorical side of it, which is demonstrated by the intense physical activity present in the scene.

Chumo II, Peter N. “Dance, Flexibility, and the Renewal of Genre in Singin’ in the RainCinema Journal, Vol. 36, No.1. Fall 1996. 41. Jstor. 1 May 2008.