Definition of wriggle in English:


Line breaks: wrig¦gle
Pronunciation: /ˈrɪg(ə)l


  • 1Twist and turn with quick writhing movements: [no object]: she kicked and wriggled but he held her firmly [with object]: she wriggled her bare, brown toes
    More example sentences
    • She's wriggling and twisting on the bed all the time.
    • The baby wriggled, all limbs kicking and waving happily.
    • They had sliced the worm in two and the worm was still wriggling.
    squirm, writhe, wiggle, jiggle, jerk, thresh, flounder, flail, twitch, turn, twist, twist and turn, zigzag; snake, worm, slither, slink, crawl, creep
  • 1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move in a particular direction with wriggling movements: Susie wriggled out of her clothes
    More example sentences
    • She reached the rocks and wriggled through them, moving her feet gently through the water.
    • Someone latched onto him but he wriggled away, his eyes directly on Gabrielle Potter.
    • She tried to wriggle away without waking him but she could barely move.
  • 2 [no object] (wriggle out of) Avoid (something) by devious means: don’t try and wriggle out of your contract
    More example sentences
    • He said that, in his opinion, Mrs Stansfield's counter-claim was a ‘sham’ because she constantly tried to wriggle out of the contract and avoid blame for the shop's closure.
    • To cut a long story short, this bill is introducing these rules to stop the banks from avoiding and wriggling out of their taxes.
    • The whisky industry, which last week was trying to wriggle out of new environmental regulations on water, has been outed as a major source of water pollution.
    avoid, shirk, dodge, evade, elude, sidestep, circumvent, eschew; hide from, escape from, extricate oneself from, steer clear of
    informal duck
    archaic bilk


Back to top  
  • A wriggling movement: she gave an impatient little wriggle
    More example sentences
    • She gave a little wriggle of her shoulders, looking uncomfortable.
    • He was not gagged, which was a blessing, but the rope was tied tight and limited any movement to a caterpillar-like wriggle.
    • Sea creatures appear lashed by an ocean spray of brilliant white diamonds; the twisting form of an iguana brooch insinuates the darting wriggle of the animal's movements.
    squirm, jiggle, wiggle, jerk, twist, turn



More example sentences
  • I have always been told to choose good wriggly maggots so I tilt the box slightly and I reckon the ones that reach the top of the incline must be the best wrigglers.
  • Breast-feeding with the sun on her back, having a baby under the table while eating out of doors, long walks with the little wriggler in a sling in fine weather - all that had been both practical and idyllic.
  • Four more of the bright red wrigglers were discovered on Wednesday morning, causing the entire Kwun Tong swimming complex to be shut down.


adjective (wrigglier, wriggliest)
More example sentences
  • It's a very wriggly baby… it was playing with its fingers and toes while we were watching, and opening/closing its mouth.
  • Each molecule is a bit like a tadpole: a large head, with a long, wriggly tail.
  • I watched one that had caught a particularly large and wriggly earthworm but couldn't manage to eat it.


late 15th century: from Middle Low German wriggelen, frequentative of wriggen 'twist, turn'.

More definitions of wriggle

Definition of wriggle in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day grotesquerie
Pronunciation: grəʊˈtɛskəri
grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively