Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Meaning of “Tweedledum And Tweedledee” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Meaning of “Tweedledum And Tweedledee” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Tweedledum And Tweedledee

“If there is any difference between them, it is the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee”: which means no perceptible difference at all or so trifling as to be worthless. “Tweedledum” and “Tweedledee” are words which, at one time, were used to indicate the difference in pound between a high-pitched musical instrument and a low-pitched one. Hence to tweedle is to strum the strings of a fiddle, or to make a sound similar to that made by a fiddle; to play lightly and aimlessly with anything, as tweedling the thumbs.

The phrase is often used of political parties which, while pretending to dispute about superficial policies, are not divided in principle. The words came into being, however, not through any political controversy but as a result of a contest of wits in the eighteenth century regarding the relative technical merits of the German musical composer, Handel, and the Italian, Buononcini, who had visited the United Kingdom. The Prince of Wales, supported by Pope, championed Handel, and Buononcini was defended by the Duke of Marlborough. A similar controversy raged in Paris half a century later concerning the merits of the German composer, Gluck, and the Italian, Piccini. Each of these controversies was a purely “society” affair: a storm in a teacup—like many others which often agitate the political parties: having no real social significance nor value, and resulting in nothing more serious than estrangements of friendships: a case of “much ado about nothing.”

The controversy in England was satirized at the time by John Byrom, a man who, evidently, had seized the situation very acutely, and who has made himself immortal by the following lines:

Some say, compared to Buononcini,

That Mein Herr Handers but a ninny;

Others aver that he to Handel

Is scarcely fit to hold a candle;

Strange that this difference should be

‘Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

—Handel and Buononcini (Poems, 1773).


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