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From wrig +‎ -le (frequentative suffix). Compare Dutch wriggelen (to wriggle, squirm), Low German wriggeln (to wriggle). Related to Old English wrigian (to turn, wend, hie, go move), from Proto-Germanic *wrigōną (to wriggle).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹɪɡəl/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪɡəl


wriggle (third-person singular simple present wriggles, present participle wriggling, simple past and past participle wriggled)

  1. (intransitive) To twist one's body to and fro with short, writhing motions; to squirm.
    Teachers often lose their patience when children wriggle in their seats.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jonathan Swift and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Both he and successors would often wriggle in their seats, as long as the cushion lasted.
    • 1972, Carlos Castañeda, The teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of knowledge[1], page 78:
      I tried to ease my grip, but my hands were sweating so profusely that the lizards began to wriggle out of them.
  2. (transitive) To cause to or make something wriggle.
    He was sitting on the lawn, wriggling his toes in the grass.
  3. (intransitive) To use crooked or devious means.

Derived terms[edit]



wriggle (plural wriggles)

  1. A wriggling movement.