wrig·​gle | \ ˈri-gəl How to pronounce wriggle (audio) \
wriggled; wriggling\ ˈri-​g(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce wriggling (audio) \

Definition of wriggle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move the body or a bodily part to and fro with short writhing motions like a worm : squirm
2 : to move or advance by twisting and turning
3 : to extricate or insinuate oneself or reach a goal as if by wriggling

transitive verb

1 : to cause to move in short quick contortions
2 : to introduce, insinuate, or bring into a state or place by or as if by wriggling



Definition of wriggle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a short or quick writhing motion or contortion
2 : a formation or marking of sinuous design

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from wriggle


wriggly \ ˈri-​g(ə-​)lē How to pronounce wriggly (audio) \ adjective

Examples of wriggle in a Sentence


The children wriggled and squirmed in their chairs. She managed to wriggle free of her ropes. They wriggled out of their wet clothes. I had trouble getting the wriggling fish off my hook. The snake wriggled across the path and went underneath a bush. He was able to wriggle through the narrow opening.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Adam Morgan got the first out on a grounder that moved McMahon to third before Seranthony Dominguez came on and wriggled out of the inning. Aaron Bracy, The Seattle Times, "Harper’s bat, Nola’s arm lead Phillies past Rockies 2-1," 18 May 2019 What if Hollywood never stops asking its female leads to wriggle into unforgiving latex suits? Vanessa Chow, Glamour, "Amber Heard Is Nobody’s Victim," 27 Nov. 2018 But his plans were torn apart within minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium as Ronaldo wriggled free of the imposing Da Costa to bury an unstoppable header past a helpless Monir El Kajoui. Martyn Wood, chicagotribune.com, "Ronaldo again leads Portugal to victory against Morocco," 20 June 2018 The teepees tend to fall off easily as the baby's little legs wriggle around. Naomi Williamson, Woman's Day, "10 Things Never to Buy a New Mom," 23 July 2014 Who in their right mind would wriggle into stiff selvage denim and zero-stretch vintage 501s when leggings—which do so much more than hold me during downward dogs and spin classes—exist? Alexandra Ilyashov, Glamour, "A Case For Wearing Maternity Jeans When You’re Not Pregnant," 6 Dec. 2018 The man said he had been tied up with ropes at first but later, after learning to wriggle free, was restrained with increasingly larger chains on and off over six years. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Turpin sister's photos of shackled siblings draw gasps in court," 21 June 2018 In fact, hostilities continued up to the last hour to ensure that the Germans did not wriggle out of their armistice obligations, which were effectively terms of surrender. Brendan Simms, WSJ, "‘Peace at Last’ Review: Remembering Flanders Fields," 11 Nov. 2018 In the months ahead, expect CBS to wriggle and wrangle for ways to deliver at least some of these terms to Mr. Moonves, despite the results of a pending internal investigation into any misbehavior while he was employed at CBS. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "CBS and the Function of Severance," 11 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That description offers a little more wriggle room; Windows 10 might only have a plurality share of enterprise systems rather than the majority share Nadella claimed. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Half of enterprise machines run Windows 10, as Windows 7’s end of life looms," 25 Oct. 2018 It might be coated with compounds capable of making sperm wriggle in place, keeping them from inseminating a woman’s egg. Zoë Schlanger, Newsweek, "Plantibodies Could Pave the Road to Wellness," 15 Dec. 2014 The dancers, who double as performers and teachers, gyrate in a circle as the alpacas wriggle among them. John Clarke, WSJ, "Dancing Alpacas! Guard Alpacas! Party Alpacas! Breeders Find New Uses After Market Bust," 25 Mar. 2018 God- and state-fearing Although Christians are growing more numerous, the wriggle room allowed to them is shrinking. The Economist, "As China tightens rules on religion, unregistered churches wince," 15 Mar. 2018 Museums in China have barely any wriggle room to question the official line. The Economist, "Memories and hallucinationsThe Opium Wars still shape China’s view of the West," 16 Dec. 2017 On one hand, the country appears to be running out of financial wriggle room. The Economist, "How long can Venezuela avoid default?," 2 Nov. 2017 Through a series of plot wriggles, Grace has the opportunity to hang around in the Oval Office. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "What Was Will & Grace?," 27 Sep. 2017 If so, the Ducks will enter the meet -- June 7-10 at Hayward Field -- with wriggle room. Ken Goe, OregonLive.com, "Despite mishaps, UO women still appear to be solid favorites: Oregon track & field rundown," 30 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wriggle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of wriggle


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1709, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wriggle


Middle English, from or akin to Middle Low German wriggeln to wriggle; akin to Old English wrigian to turn — more at wry

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wriggle

Dictionary Entries near wriggle





wriggle out of



Statistics for wriggle

Last Updated

4 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wriggle

The first known use of wriggle was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wriggle



English Language Learners Definition of wriggle

: to twist from side to side with small quick movements like a worm
: to move forward by twisting and turning


wrig·​gle | \ ˈri-gəl How to pronounce wriggle (audio) \
wriggled; wriggling

Kids Definition of wriggle

1 : to twist or move like a worm : squirm, wiggle
2 : to advance by twisting and turning Her dog … would wriggle under the fence and run about …— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on wriggle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wriggle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wriggle

Spanish Central: Translation of wriggle

Nglish: Translation of wriggle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wriggle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wriggle

What made you want to look up wriggle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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