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 Astronomers have been tracking bright jets of high-energy particles that periodically wriggle their way through the universe and into sensors here on Earth. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Two Black Holes Are Merging at the Center of a Distant Galaxy," 19 Feb. 2020 The baby was practically dancing, wriggling and squirming and shimmying for us on the screen. Robin Amer, USA Today, "I was panicking over coronavirus. Then I heard my baby’s heartbeat.," 22 Apr. 2020 Even if toddlers are tall enough for the belt to reach the shoulders, children that young rarely sit upright for long and often wriggle out of position. Daniela Porat, ProPublica, "Evenflo, Maker of the “Big Kid” Booster Seat, Put Profits Over Child Safety," 6 Feb. 2020 Retail group L Brands and private-equity firm Sycamore Partners are currently in a legal battle after Sycamore tried to wriggle out of its agreement to take over Victoria’s Secret. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Covid-19 is set to unleash a wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions," 27 Apr. 2020 Several thousand sperm wriggled in the petri dish before him, alongside a single human egg, retrieved earlier that day from a woman undergoing in vitro fertilization. Randi Hutter Epstein, New York Times, "Tinder for Sperm: Even in the Petri Dish, Looks and Athleticism Are Prized," 17 Apr. 2020 Twenty tawny sharks were seen wriggling in shallow water on the beach in Australia. Fox News, "Sharks do ‘pipi’ dance in shallow water, video reveals," 7 Feb. 2020 Some states and cities have responded by trying to wriggle out of their obligations and cut the benefits retirees get, but courts have often decided against them, ruling that a contract is a contract. The Economist, "Public pensions are woefully underfunded," 16 Nov. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Their valley is bare dirt, halved by a wriggle of creek. New York Times, "‘How Much of These Hills Is Gold,’ by C Pam Zhang: An Excerpt," 7 Apr. 2020 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

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

Cite this Entry

“Wriggle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wriggle. Accessed 24 Sep. 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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