Fissle or fistle

Posted by R.Berg on May 01, 2003

In Reply to: Fissle or fistle posted by Steph Phillips on May 01, 2003

: Does anyone know the origin of the word fissle, or fistle? My family use it and reckon it's a local Gloucestershire word, but I can't find any trace of it on the web.

: It basically means 'not sitting still' or shifting around in your seat/bed, I suppose having ants in your pants would be another similar phrase. It's usually said as 'stop fissling around' or 'fissling about'.

: I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who knows where this phrase came from - thanks.

: Stephanie

The Oxford English Dictionary has it: "Fissle, fistle," classified as Scottish and dialectal. "Fisle" and "fissil" are given as variant spellings.
First definition: "To make a slight continued noise; to rustle; to move with such a noise." Earliest quotation illustrating this sense is dated 1721.
Second def.: "To move about restlessly or uneasily; to fidget." Earliest quotation 1785.
Origin: echoic.