Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To turn or twist the body with sinuous writhing motions; squirm.
  • intransitive v. To proceed with writhing motions.
  • intransitive v. To worm one's way into or out of a situation; insinuate or extricate oneself by sly or subtle means.
  • transitive v. To move with a wriggling motion: wriggle a toe.
  • transitive v. To make (one's way, for example) by or as if by wriggling: He wriggled his way into favor.
  • n. A wriggling movement.
  • n. A sinuous path, line, or marking.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To slightly twist one's body and quickly move one's limbs.
  • v. To cause to or make something wriggle.
  • n. A wriggling movement.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move the body to and fro with short, writhing motions, like a worm; to squirm; to twist uneasily or quickly about.
  • transitive v. To move with short, quick contortions; to move by twisting and squirming; like a worm.
  • adj. Wriggling; frisky; pliant; flexible.
  • n. Act of wriggling; a short or quick writhing motion or contortion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move sinuously; twist to and fro; writhe; squirm; wiggle.
  • To move along sinuously, or by twisting and turning the body, as a snake, an eel, or a worm; hence, figuratively, to proceed by shifts and turns; make way by sinuous or crooked means: as, to wriggle out of a difficulty.
  • To cause to wriggle; twist and shake slightly and quickly; effect by wriggling.
  • n. The motion of one who or that which wriggles; a quick twisting motion or contortion like that of a worm or an eel.
  • n. Something showing the effect of wriggling or sinuous action; a sinuosity or contortion; a wrinkle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. to move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling)
  • n. the act of wiggling

Etymologies

Middle English wrigglen, perhaps from Middle Low German wriggeln; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Related to Old English wrigian ("to turn"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Did even a phony like Randall Terry "wriggle" into the spotlight recently when he exploited the hapless Schiavo family?

    Hullabaloo

  • Perhaps there are moments when the man has remembered his childish language, betrayed by his fondness for such words as 'wriggle', 'slither' and 'squish'.

    A Prolegomenon to the Reading of Some Books Labeled YA

  • Miss Bartlett gave a kind of wriggle, and he prepared for a discussion.

    A Room with a View

  • With a kind of wriggle, like a fish returned to the brook by the fisherman, Biddlebaum the silent began to talk, striving to put into words the ideas that had been accumulated by his mind during long years of silence.

    Winesburg, Ohio: a Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life

  • [FN#44] We should call this walk of "Arab ladies" a waddle: I have never seen it in Europe except amongst the trading classes of Trieste, who have a "wriggle" of their own.

    Arabian nights. English

  • I feel a conviction that it is somehow connected with Glacial destruction, but I cannot "wriggle" comfortably at all on the subject.

    More Letters of Charles Darwin — Volume 1

  • This cam with plastic clamping plate design ensures smooth, torque-free clamping to eliminate movement or 'wriggle' during the clamping process, as well as ensuring that the clamping force cannot exceed set limits, which can be as high as 5,000N.

    Manufacturingtalk - manufacturing industry news

  • Wealthy nations reneging on emissions: China A GROUP of senior Chinese climate officials has lashed out at rich nations, accusing them of trying to "wriggle" out of their commitments to the developing world.

    AustralianIT.com.au | Top Stories

  • But it could deliver some immediate results in Afghanistan – and that might be a trade that an administration that wishes to wriggle away from a campaign promise to send more troops to Afghanistan might be willing to make.

    Asia

  • Often the thrill of reading is to watch irrational people impose their emotional will on other characters, who must pluckily work to wriggle out from underneath it.

    Distortion Theory « Tales from the Reading Room

Comments

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  • Would "the act of wiggling" not be wiggle? Dontchathink "wriggle" has a writhing quality to it?

    December 3, 2007

  • "held under these smothering waves
    by your strong and thick veined hand,
    but one of these days I'm going to wriggle up on dry land."

    February 21, 2007