Edgar Allan Poe ponders diddling in his essay “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences“:
Diddling — or the abstract idea conveyed by the verb to diddle — is sufficiently well understood. Yet the fact, the deed, the thing diddling, is somewhat difficult to define. We may get, however, at a tolerably distinct conception of the matter in hand, by defining — not the thing, diddling, in itself — but man, as an animal that diddles. Had Plato but hit upon this, he would have been spared the affront of the picked chicken.
Very pertinently it was demanded of Plato, why a picked chicken, which was clearly “a biped without feathers,” was not, according to his own definition, a man? But I am not to be bothered by any similar query. Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man. It will take an entire hen-coop of picked chickeus [[chickens]] to get over that.
What constitutes the essence, the ware, the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. “Man was made to mourn,” says the poet. But not so: — he was made to diddle. This is his aim — his object — his end. And for this reason when a man’s diddled we say he’s “done.”