stick·​le ˈsti-kəl How to pronounce stickle (audio)
stickled; stickling ˈsti-k(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce stickle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to contend especially stubbornly and usually on insufficient grounds
: to feel scruples : scruple

Word History


alteration of Middle English stightlen, frequentative of stighten to arrange, from Old English stihtan; akin to Old Norse stētta to found, support

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of stickle was in 1625

Dictionary Entries Near stickle

Cite this Entry

“Stickle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!