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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 wriggling
  • It all comes to the same in the end, as the enemy said when he was wriggling on a lance point.
  • Sea snakes were everywhere, wriggling in and out of coral branches after small fish and eels.
  • Tobacco firms are wriggling around the new restrictions.
  • Virtually every manufacturer is wriggling to escape from the grip of its purchasing power.
  • Whoever wishes to reform the dance must break the grip that clutches partner against partner, in shuffling, wriggling ambulation.
  • Visually, lines work less as demarcations of the surface than as skinny shapes wriggling atop it.
  • One by one, seven adorable, wriggling puppies are born.
  • With a splash it seizes its prey and ascends into the sky, holding a wriggling rockfish tightly in its talons.
British Dictionary definitions for wriggling


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 wriggling



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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