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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb L’enfant Terrible needed an extra year to wriggle out of Les Nords’ clutches and force a trade to the Flyers. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Sep. 2022 That means the only thing that could stop the deal would be a ruling in favor of Musk’s desperate legal attempts to wriggle out of it. David Meyer, Fortune, 13 Sep. 2022 But Haniger’s crafty slide avoided the tag of Andres Gimenez, and only Trevor Stephan’s big effort allowed the Guards to wriggle out of a jam with Haniger at third representing the game-winning run. Joe Noga, cleveland, 27 Aug. 2022 Twitter maintains that its SEC filings were accurate and that Musk is looking for an excuse to wriggle out of the deal. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Aug. 2022 In an attempt to wriggle out of his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, Elon Musk and his lawyers made broad claims that Twitter was lying about how much spam was on the platform. Scott Nover, Quartz, 30 Aug. 2022 Pull that out and leave it on a chair, just in case someone wants to wriggle in for a full-body snuggle. Outside Online, 17 Nov. 2020 Twitter said the billionaire used his complaints about bots as a pretext to wriggle out of the agreement. New York Times, 12 July 2022 Since early June, the two seemed to be at an impasse: while Twitter insisted Musk follow through on his commitment, the Tesla CEO appeared to try and wriggle out of it—or at least negotiate more favorable terms. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 8 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The team chose a peekytoe crab shape simply for the fun of watching a minuscule robot wriggle in a crab-like fashion, but their three-dimensional printing technique could be used to mimic any animal or shape, the researchers say. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 26 May 2022 Just under your skin lie whole aqueous worlds, where trillions of cells spark and beat and wriggle and secrete, doing all the complicated tasks of keeping you alive. Megan Molteni, STAT, 14 May 2022 At the Las Vegas Justice Court, the largest of some 40 courts hearing eviction cases in Nevada, Hearing Master David F. Brown did not allow for much wriggle room. New York Times, 11 Aug. 2021 The planned July 19 lifting of most restrictions is being touted by Johnson as a milestone, but the prime minister, characteristically, has left himself some wriggle room. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2021 But the legal decision left the county no wriggle room. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 June 2021 And the cry to do something, anything, will only grow louder, though the paucity of top prospects and aforementioned inflexibility will leave GM Brian Cashman with limited wriggle room. USA Today, 31 May 2021 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, 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, 15 Sep. 2020 See More

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.

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

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

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wriggle out of

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wriggle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wriggle. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for wriggle


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

More from Merriam-Webster on wriggle

Nglish: Translation of wriggle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wriggle for Arabic Speakers


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