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 Maybe there’s a third way: wrap and wriggle around him; keep the beat strong but still responsive; follow the elusive spirit of Mr. Lloyd’s playing without trying to mirror it. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Charles Lloyd Revels in the Flow on a Stellar Live Album," 3 Mar. 2020 The man walks away and the woman wriggles under a fence before the tow yard employee arrives at the gate and the truck smashes through the gate, sending him sprawling. oregonlive, "Woman suspected of driving stolen truck into Portland tow yard employee arrested," 16 Feb. 2020 Over on Fox, Chris Wallace was presenting a master class in journalism, not letting wormy Stephen Miller wriggle off the hook. BostonGlobe.com, "I have seen the future of real, decent politics, and its name is Jake Auchincloss.," 1 Oct. 2019 These twisting, wriggling cells are actually made of boiling plasma. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "This Is the Most Detailed Video of the Sun's Surface Ever Taken—and It's Incredible," 30 Jan. 2020 The 5-week-olds were wriggling with excitement during their first outing away from home. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Capitals traded pucks for pups in annual canine calendar shoot," 15 Oct. 2019 Witnesses reported to police that in an attempt to get away, Short wriggled out of his clothes. Patricio G. Balona, USA TODAY, "Florida man tried to escape cops by stripping naked. Ribeyes fell out of his pants.," 18 Feb. 2020 Inside the second box, a thousand mealworms wriggled over an egg crate. Jason Plautz, Ars Technica, "“Out poked two antennae”—crafting an insect-based dinner party," 28 Nov. 2019 The little girl in front of me wriggles with excitement. Melanie Radzicki Mcmanus, chicagotribune.com, "This holiday season, don’t just watch ‘The Nutcracker.’ Be part of the story in Oshkosh, Wis.," 18 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Look out for eels’ eyes peeking out from coral castles, and watch the glowing green tentacles of a sea anemone wriggle in the tide. Shannon Sims, New York Times, "36 Hours in Curaçao," 11 Feb. 2020 One of the people wriggles under the gate of the tow yard. oregonlive, "Second person arrested after thief caught on camera smashing stolen truck into tow yard employee," 19 Feb. 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for wriggle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wriggle

Last Updated

8 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wriggle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wriggle. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

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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

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