fi·​na·​gle fə-ˈnā-gəl How to pronounce finagle (audio)
finagled; finagling fə-ˈnā-g(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce finagle (audio)

transitive verb

: to obtain (something) by indirect or involved means
finagle a ride home
: to obtain (something) by trickery
He finagled his way into the concert.

intransitive verb

: to use devious or dishonest methods to achieve one's ends
I have long craved a convention where someone had to wheel and deal, … maneuver and finagle, to win the crown.Mark Plotkin
finagler noun

Examples of finagle in a Sentence

A con man finagled my neighbor out of four hundred dollars. let me look at my schedule and see if I can't finagle a visit to the museum
Recent Examples on the Web The slingback style is easy to put on in the mornings since there are no buttons or clasps to finagle with. Michelle Rostamian, Peoplemag, 22 Apr. 2024 Two months later, Ms. Arnett finagled a trip to New York to meet Ms. Upadhyaya in person. Tammy Lagorce, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Just how exactly, good-looking people finagle their way into more pay is a complex phenomenon, the result of hundreds of hard-to-measure human interactions. Irina Ivanova, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024 Length: 15 inches | Heat Protection: 650°F Best Value Oven Mitts Gorilla Grip Quilted Cotton Oven Mitts $12 What’s Great About It The all-cotton construction is extremely flexible for finagling a variety of pots and pans. Moriah Mason, Southern Living, 8 Jan. 2024 People schemed, finagled, wheedled, and conspired, caught up in the mad, headlong rush of the city. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2023 In one episode, Mia finagles Santi a recording session with Jota Rosa, who keeps pressing Santi to reveal his own personality in his music. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 19 Oct. 2023 McKay’s convoluted flick passed off snarky Hollywood narrative finagling for social insight, and Dumb Money winds up almost as unsatisfying — certainly as suspicious. Armond White, National Review, 27 Sep. 2023 By the end of the school year, Oliver has finagled an invitation to spend the summer at Saltburn, where he and Farleigh will be treated like needy pets for the family’s amusement. Peter Debruge, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'finagle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps alteration of fainaigue to renege

First Known Use

circa 1924, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of finagle was circa 1924

Dictionary Entries Near finagle

Cite this Entry

“Finagle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


fi·​na·​gle fə-ˈnā-gəl How to pronounce finagle (audio)
finagled; finagling -g(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce finagle (audio)
: to use trickery to get what one wants
finagler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on finagle

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