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Etymology 1[edit]

Circa 17th century, perhaps of North Germanic origin, related to Norwegian nugge, nyggje (to push, rub, shove), Icelandic nugga (to rub, massage), from the root of Proto-Germanic *hnōjaną (to smooth, join together), from Proto-Indo-European *kneh₂- (compare Ancient Greek κνάω (knáō, to scratch, scrape), source of English acnestis).[1]

Compare also Scots nodge (to push, poke, nudge), knidge (to push, squeeze), gnidge (to rub, press, squeeze, bruise), and knudge (to squeeze, press down with the knuckles), Saterland Frisian Nukke, Nuk (a sudden push), Middle Low German nucke, nücke, gnücke (a sudden push, shock, impetus). Compare also dialectal nuch (to tremble), Middle English nuchen (to tremble).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • nug (dialectal)


  • IPA(key): /nʌd͡ʒ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌd͡ʒ


nudge (plural nudges)

  1. A gentle push.
    give someone a nudge
  2. (Internet) A feature of instant messaging software used to get the attention of another user, as by shaking the conversation window or playing a sound.
  3. The rotation by one step of a fruit machine reel of the player's choice.
    Since the machine was showing two lemons and a cherry, I decided to try a nudge.
  4. (behavioral economics) The use of positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence.
    • 2012 March 24, “Nudge nudge, think think”, in The Economist[1]:
      All this experimentation is yielding insights into which nudges give the biggest shove. One question is whether nudges can be designed to harness existing social norms. In Copenhagen Pelle Guldborg Hansen, founder of the Danish Nudging Network, a non-profit organisation, tested two potential “social nudges” in partnership with the local government, both using symbols to try to influence choices.
    • 2013 December 7, Kathrin Bennhold, “Britain’s Ministry of Nudges”, in New York Times[2]:
      Manipulating behavior is old hat in the private sector, where advertisers and companies have been nudging consumers for decades. Just think of strategically placed chocolate bars at the checkout counter. But in public policy, nudge proponents study human behavior to try to figure out why people sometimes make choices that they themselves would consider poor. Then they test small changes in how those choices are presented, to see whether people can be steered toward better decisions — like putting apples, not chocolate bars, at eye level in school cafeterias. [] It is tricky to run perfectly controlled experiments in real-life situations, but proving the worth of nudges is a central principle of the program, Mr. Halpern said.
Derived terms[edit]


nudge (third-person singular simple present nudges, present participle nudging, simple past and past participle nudged)

  1. (transitive) To push against gently, especially in order to gain attention or give a signal.
    • 2012 January, Steven Sloman, “The Battle Between Intuition and Deliberation”, in American Scientist[3], volume 100, number 1, archived from the original on 8 January 2012, page 74:
      Libertarian paternalism is the view that, because the way options are presented to citizens affects what they choose, society should present options in a way that “nudges” our intuitive selves to make choices that are more consistent with what our more deliberative selves would have chosen if they were in control.
  2. (transitive) To near or come close to something.
  3. (transitive) To move slightly.
    • 2021 February 2, Katharine Murphy, The Guardian[4]:
      But a serious public health and economic crisis, and the responses to it from commonwealth and state governments, seems to have nudged some “protest” voters back into the major party fold.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]


nudge (plural nudges)

  1. Alternative form of nudzh
    • 1988 April 16, Monica Hileman, “Women On Stage”, in Gay Community News, page 8:
      Grace is portrayed as an overly neurotic nudge who recites her own poetry, loves complicated situations, and is in the process of coming out to her liberal, middle class, Jewish parents.


Further reading[edit]