Definition of niggle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈniɡəl/


[no object]
1Cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety: a suspicion niggled at the back of her mind (as adjective niggling) niggling aches and pains
More example sentences
  • It just niggled at me, and I thought I'd say something.
  • So I made my way to our meeting ready to hammer them down, but my sense of fair play niggled at me.
  • One thing that niggled at his mind was the bruises that covered her body.
irritate, annoy, bother, provoke, exasperate, upset, gall, irk, rankle with
informal rile, get to, bug
1.1 [with object] Find fault with (someone) in a petty way: colleagues say he loved to niggle and criticize people
complain, quibble, nitpick, fuss, carp, cavil, grumble, gripe, grouse, moan


A trifling complaint, dispute, or criticism.
Example sentences
  • It just made impatient about having to wait four weeks before being allowed to leave all my niggles and gripes behind.
  • It may be something as simple as an annoying niggle, or frustration with his own efforts, but whatever it is, England need to resolve it soon if they are to win this series - and to have any chance of defeating the Australians in the summer.
  • In the light of that, my little niggles and the odd feelings of unhappiness seem pretty trivial.
quibble, trivial complaint, criticism, grumble, grouse, cavil
informal gripe, moan, beef



Example sentences
  • The crowd is not even daring to be expectant, bitten too many times by false hope, but there was a new energy about the Kingz last time on this field, so in the stands there is only a nigglingly small doubt that the team will lose.
  • He still finds reading nigglingly annoying, and hates most television.
  • It's a fine scene, but nigglingly off centre in a few important details.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'do something in a fiddling or ineffectual way'): apparently of Scandinavian origin; compare with Norwegian nigla. Current senses date from the late 18th century.

Words that rhyme with niggle

giggle, higgle, jiggle, sniggle, squiggle, wiggle, wriggle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nig·gle

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