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

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Other Words from wriggle


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

Examples of wriggle in a Sentence

Verb 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Why Things Go Boom Why did those slo-mo flames just transform into a wriggling square of fruit leather? Scientific American, "Budding Organs, Science on Blast(s), and Human-Robot Synchronicity: Science GIFs to Start Your Week," 4 Nov. 2019 The slumping Correa hit a weak fly ball before rookie pinch-hitter Kyle Tucker struck out, allowing Strasburg to wriggle out of the jam and end his solid night. Kristie Rieken, Anchorage Daily News, "Nationals demolish Astros in Houston to take commanding 2-0 World Series lead," 24 Oct. 2019 Anti-Brexit activists fear Johnson will try to wriggle out of that requirement, and asked Scotland’s highest court to order the government to comply. San Diego Union-Tribune, "EU sees hope in Brexit talks; Irish leader sees wide gaps," 9 Oct. 2019 Pelosi is moving quickly under the assumption that the longer the process takes, the more opportunities Trump will have to wriggle out of this vise, and the more Democrats will become distracted and dissolute. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Pelosi’s Impeachment Bank Shot," 5 Oct. 2019 There, Bugs taught her offspring to crouch low when the form of a hawk passed overhead, roll in the sand pit, and wriggle lightning-like through the slats in the fence. Jacqueline Alnes, Longreads, "Lions, Tigers, and a Rabbit Named Bugs: A Reading List on Animal-Human Interactions," 27 Apr. 2017 While his brother and sister were seen lounging and enjoying some snacks, he was spotted wriggling over the back seat of the vehicle and standing in the trunk. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George Was a Riot at the Royal Polo Match and We Nearly Missed It," 11 July 2019 After about two hours, the Dixons wriggled out of the tape and called police. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "The World War II vet was held captive by an escapee. Then he became someone else.," 3 Sep. 2019 But Congress in 2016 passed legislation allowing the commonwealth to wriggle out of those obligations. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Chicago Has Another Bond for You," 17 Aug. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun From Dave Spang’s perch high atop a sandy cliff in Truro, the vast ocean wriggles and writhes almost imperceptibly beneath a cloudless sky. BostonGlobe.com, "A short documentary exploring climate change on Cape Cod," 26 Sep. 2019 By leaving the margin outlook unchanged, Rorsted also gave himself some wriggle-room to invest to compete with Nike Inc. and to continue to rejuvenate Reebok. Washington Post, "Adidas Thinks Beyond the Craze for “Dad Sneakers”," 6 Aug. 2019 Second, Intel also ships each mobile processor with some wriggle room for notebook makers, allowing them to trade off higher power consumption (and probably lower battery life) for more upclocked performance. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel announces Comet Lake, a faster, 10th-gen Whiskey Lake chip for mainstream laptops," 21 Aug. 2019 There are puppy snuggles, kisses, and adorable wriggles that will keep you entertained for hours. Sophia Caraballo, Woman's Day, "How to Successfully Potty Train Your New Puppy," 4 June 2019 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for wriggle

Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for wriggle

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

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More Definitions for wriggle


How to pronounce wriggle (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on wriggle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wriggle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wriggle

Spanish Central: Translation of wriggle

Nglish: Translation of wriggle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wriggle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wriggle

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to speed up the process or progress of

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