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[rig-uh l] /ˈrɪg əl/
verb (used without object), wriggled, wriggling.
to twist to and fro; writhe; squirm.
to move along by twisting and turning the body, as a worm or snake.
to make one's way by shifts or expedients (often followed by out):
to wriggle out of a difficulty.
verb (used with object), wriggled, wriggling.
to cause to wriggle:
to wriggle one's hips.
to bring, get, make, etc., by wriggling:
to wriggle one's way through a narrow opening.
act of wriggling; a wriggling movement.
Origin of wriggle
1485-95; < Middle Low German wriggelen (cognate with Dutch wriggelen), frequentative of *wriggen to twist, turn, akin to Old English wrīgian to twist; see wry
Related forms
wrigglingly, adverb
outwriggle, verb (used with object), outwriggled, outwriggling.
unwriggled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wriggle out
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the Brothers saw instantly that they could not wriggle out of these knots.

  • But being small Pee-wee was able to wriggle out of almost anything.

    Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • Nothing, said Evelyn, trying to wriggle out of her aunts grasp.

    A Very Naughty Girl L. T. Meade
  • Bohm had tried to wriggle out of every clause in his contract.

    A Tenderfoot Bride Clarice E. Richards
  • He was therefore prepared to wriggle out of his awkward position.

    The Light That Lures Percy Brebner
  • But there it was, signed and stamped; and he did not see how you could wriggle out of it.

    Mrs. Thompson William Babington Maxwell
  • Teddy ate him up, the first fall, by a swift half Nelson, and a quicker recovery when Pelham tried to turn over and wriggle out.

    Mountain Clement Wood
  • When washed ashore she can wriggle out of her shell and swim away.

British Dictionary definitions for wriggle out


to make or cause to make twisting movements
(intransitive) to progress by twisting and turning
(intransitive; foll by into or out of) to manoeuvre oneself by clever or devious means: wriggle out of an embarrassing situation
a wriggling movement or action
a sinuous marking or course
Derived Forms
wriggler, noun
wriggly, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Middle Low German; compare Dutch wriggelen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wriggle out



late 15c., from Middle Low German wrigglen "to wriggle," from Proto-Germanic *wrig-, *wreik- "to turn" (see wry). Related to Old English wrigian "to turn, incline, go forward."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wriggle out



  1. An old car or other vehicle; heap, jalopy (1930s+)
  2. An exhausted or dissipated person; a human ruin: He's pretty smart, but physically a wreck (1795+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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