wrig·​gle | \ ˈri-gəl How to pronounce wriggle (audio) \
wriggled; wriggling\ ˈri-​g(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce wriggle (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 wriggle (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 Watching the award-winning actor wriggle out of one impossible jam after another is great fun. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, "A new take on the life of Tejano superstar Selena and four other shows our TV critic is watching this week," 4 Dec. 2020 Because, really, after eight long months in elastic waists, who has the patience to wriggle into stiff jeans or fussy dresses? Whitney Perry, Glamour, "Cute Outfits With Sweatpants to Copy Right Now," 4 Nov. 2020 Two years ago, Shone and a pack of Welsh researchers had to wriggle down the silky, narrow walls of this chute in Switzerland to measure how quickly the ice was shifting due to the region’s rapidly changing climate. Purbita Saha, Popular Science, "Look inside the hidden world of Earth’s most beautiful caves," 23 Oct. 2020 Henry attempted to move Villa to handcuff him and render medical aid, but Villa fought back, trying to wriggle away from him and free his arms from Henry’s grasp. Zach Murdock, courant.com, "Body camera footage shows Bridgeport police shooting suspect to break up stabbing; both suspect, victim expected to recover, officials say," 18 Sep. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All but about 15% of the revenue is dedicated by voters, leaving little wriggle room for discretion by the council; for example, about one third of the entire capital budget is dedicated to drainage. Faimon Roberts, NOLA.com, "As New Orleans cuts, Jefferson OKs $693 million budget, 5% merit pay raises," 9 Dec. 2020 Yes, in the name of expanding the playoff field and, perhaps, building in some wriggle room in the event of delays caused by COVID-19 testing, tracing and isolating, the lack of travel means no travel days. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "What to know about the MLB 2020 postseason schedule," 15 Sep. 2020 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

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 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wriggle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wriggle. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on wriggle

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