Tom Tiddler's Ground
Tom Tiddler's Ground, also known as Tom Tidler's Ground or Tommy Tiddler's Ground, is an ancient children's game in which one player, "Tom Tiddler," stands on a heap of stones, gravel, etc. Other players rush onto the heap, crying "Here I am on Tom Tiddler's ground," while Tom tries to capture or in other versions expel the invaders. By extension, the phrase has come to mean the ground or tenement of a sluggard, or of one who is easily taken advantage of. The essence of the game lives on in such more modern games as Steal the Bacon and variants of Tag.
"Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the name of an 1861 short story by Charles Dickens, and the phrase "Tom Tidler's ground" appears in his novels Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield and Dombey and Son. "Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the title of a 1931 poem and a 1931 anthology of children's poetry edited by Walter de la Mare, and a 1934 novel by Edward Shanks. E. F. Benson mentions "Tom Tiddler's Ground" in his 1935 novel The Worshipful Lucia. "Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the name given to a piece of waste land in the 1962 children's novel No One Must Know by Barbara Sleigh.
Tom Tiddler's Ground is also used in modern English as a euphemism for having an uncertain status, for example, "I asked her why her performance review was late and I could tell she was on Tom Tiddler's Ground".
- Irving, Joseph (1879). ""Mad Lucas" the hermit". The Annals of Our Time from March 20, 1874, to the Occupation of Cyprus. London: Macmillan. p. 3. The protagonist "Mr. Mopes" of the story by Dickens is based upon the hermit James Lucas.