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nig·​gle ˈni-gəl How to pronounce niggle (audio)
niggled; niggling ˈni-g(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce niggle (audio)

intransitive verb

: trifle
: to spend too much effort on minor details
: to find fault constantly in a petty way : carp
she haggles, she niggles, she wears out our patienceVirginia Woolf
: gnaw

transitive verb

: to give stingily or in tiny portions
niggler noun


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chiefly British
: a trifling doubt, objection, or complaint

Examples of niggle in a Sentence

Verb She had been niggled by worry her entire life. He's always niggling over small details. Noun I've had a knee niggle for the past few days. He has a bit of a niggle in his back. I have a few minor niggles about the performance.
Recent Examples on the Web
Despite the leadership’s best efforts to focus on the positive, the uncertainty surrounding the future of Goldman’s consumer unit continues to niggle at shareholder faith in the company. Byeamon Barrett, Fortune, 3 Mar. 2023 That said, without examples of what the ERA might change, the accusations of its largely symbolic status — lodged by some of the characters in the series — continue to niggle. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Apr. 2020 Something about this might niggle at the back of the mind as the hours go by. Stephanie Rosenbloom, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2019 Stocksy As a result, a food bully niggles a friend into ordering her way to justify her own decisions. Diane Stopyra, Marie Claire, 24 May 2019 As a result, a food bully niggles a friend into ordering her way to justify her own decisions. Diane Stopyra, Marie Claire, 24 May 2019 While her teammates niggled and nudged to frustrate England, her method was more classical., 14 June 2019 The 29-year-old England international, who has once more seen his season disrupted by niggling fitness problems, would boost Chelsea's small squad, with games set to keep coming thick and fast over the next few weeks and months., 16 Jan. 2018 With City skipper Vincent Kompany still being hampered by niggling injuries, John Stones recuperating from a hamstring strain and Eliaquim Mangala not rated by the Spaniard, the current league leaders are eager to bolster their defensive ranks., 26 Dec. 2017
In midfield, an Andreas Christensen with an achilles niggle sits this one out as Ilkay Gundogan retreats as a pivot and provides support to captain Sergio Roberto and Fermin Lopez. Tom Sanderson, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 Use this prompt to explain a niggle and talk it through. Jodie Cook, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 One niggle: The brake pedal could use a smoother transition from its energy-harvesting regenerative stoppers to its mechanical-friction brakes. IEEE Spectrum, 28 Mar. 2019 Despite the niggles, the Range Rover embodies both luxury and off-road capability. Martin Padgett Jr., Car and Driver, 2 Aug. 2023 Uncertainty undermines conviction, as do nerves: jolting, anxious thoughts that push up the heart rate; the terror of failure in front of a crowd; those unwanted, cancerous niggles. T. M. Luhrmann, Harper's Magazine, 8 Feb. 2022 Other niggles noted in the logbook: The accelerator-pedal spring lacks resistance, so your leg gets tired on long drives. Don Schroeder, Car and Driver, 29 May 2023 There were some electronic niggles in our early test car, and design features like the split rear door may prove irritating. Ben Oliver, Robb Report, 11 Mar. 2023 Any niggle or glitch can be gone in an instant, just point and swish and the obstacle is overcome. Jodie Cook, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021

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

Word History



origin unknown

First Known Use


1599, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1865, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of niggle was in 1599

Dictionary Entries Near niggle

Cite this Entry

“Niggle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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