a little tiddle cup

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
In Massachusetts, U.S., on the other hand, a “wayward child” is, technically, one “between seven and seventeen years of age” (who, moreover, habitually associates with vicious or immoral persons). Hugh Broughton, a writer of controversy in the reign of James the First, has proved that Rahab was a harlot at ten years of age. This is all very interesting, and I daresay you see me already frothing at the mouth in a fit; but no, I am not; I am just winking happy thoughts into a little tiddle cup.
(Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov)

What does "tiddle" mean here? This word isn't in the WR-dictionary. It's also not explained in the annotations.

Does anyone know what he means here?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    None of the dictionary meaning seem relevant. From Merriam-Webster:
    intransitive verb
    1
    : potter, fidget

    2
    chiefly New Eng : seesaw, teeter

    transitive verb
    dial chiefly Eng : to rear or care for with excessive solicitude : cosset, pamper
    So start with the alliteration. In AE there is no difference in pronunciation between tiddle and tittle. Primarily little-tiddle is an intensified little, like itsy-bitsy or teensy-weensy.

    But Nabokov also wants to tittilate. If you google "tiddle cup" (with the quotes) you'll run into a whole lots of interesting theories about what Nabokov was putting into that cup.
     

    stakmoge

    New Member
    Marathi
    In Massachusetts, U.S., on the other hand, a “wayward child” is, technically, one “between seven and seventeen years of age” (who, moreover, habitually associates with vicious or immoral persons). Hugh Broughton, a writer of controversy in the reign of James the First, has proved that Rahab was a harlot at ten years of age. This is all very interesting, and I daresay you see me already frothing at the mouth in a fit; but no, I am not; I am just winking happy thoughts into a little tiddle cup.
    (Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov)

    What does "tiddle" mean here? This word isn't in the WR-dictionary. It's also not explained in the annotations.

    Does anyone know what he means here?

    Thank you in advance.
    The kindle book I'm reading has this written as 'riddle cup' but the audiobook in Jeremy Irons' voice has it as 'tiddle cup'.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    What is a riddle cup?

    Edit:
    I have just found this at the University of chigcago's literary website: Spine thrilling
    Sternstein read Humbert’s declaration of helplessness in resisting nymphets, ending with the line, “My little cup brims with tiddles.”
    “What is a tiddle cup?” she asked the class.
    Students pointed out that it evokes nursery rhymes, which often use words like “fiddle” and “diddle,” as well as the game tiddledywinks. Tiddle also means to fondle, noted Sternstein, and tiddle cup is a now-obsolete term for a container into which banquet goers would urinate, allowing for uninterrupted indulgence. So, she said, it speaks to “overindulgence in petting or fondling.”
    The whole article may be helpful for those reading Nabokov.
     
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