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From Middle English wranglen, from Low German wrangeln (to wrangle), frequentative form of Low German wrangen (to struggle, make an uproar), equivalent to wring +‎ -le. Related to Danish vringle (to twist, entangle) and German rangeln (to wrestle). More at wrong, wring.



wrangle (third-person singular simple present wrangles, present participle wrangling, simple past and past participle wrangled)

  1. (intransitive) To bicker, or quarrel angrily and noisily.
    • c. 1611, William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1,[1]
      Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,
      And I would call it, fair play.
    • 1716, Joseph Addison, The Freeholder, No. 39, Friday, May 4, 1716, in The Works of Joseph Addison, Volume III, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837, p. 235,[2]
      He did not know what it was to wrangle on indifferent points, to triumph in the superiority of his understanding, or to be supercilious on the side of truth.
    • 1941, Emily Carr, Klee Wyck, Chapter 18,[3]
      I stood where land and sea wrangled ferociously over the overlap.
  2. (transitive) To herd (horses or other livestock); (humorously) to supervise, manage (people).
    • 1962, “The Second Time Around,” Time, 12 January, 1962,[4]
      When she tries to wrangle a calf, she ends up flat on her face in the barnyard muck.
    • 2010, Sean Gordon, “Gionta settles in, stands out,” The Globe and Mail, 3 October, 2010,[5]
      Wrangling a chaotic group of five-year-olds is unnerving enough without the added stress of a famous NHLer in the room helping lace his son’s skates.
  3. (transitive) To involve in a quarrel or dispute; to embroil.
    • 1649, Robert Sanderson, Letter to N. N. respecting the relative Merits of the Presbyterians and the Independents, 10 April, 1649, in George D’Oyly, The Life of William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, Volume II, London: John Murray, 1821, Appendix, p. 442,[6]
      When we have wrangled ourselves as long as our wits and strengths will serve us, the honest, downright sober English Protestant will be found, in the end, the man in the safest way, and by the surest line []
  4. Misspelling of wangle.
    I don't know how, but she managed to wrangle us four front row seats at tonight's game.


Derived terms[edit]



wrangle (plural wrangles)

  1. An act of wrangling.
    Wrangle and bloodshed followed thence.
  2. An angry dispute.


See also[edit]