Differences between wriggle and wiggle

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rich7, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    when to use each if any,,.........
     
  2. MissFit

    MissFit Senior Member

    I would use wriggle to mean using a wiggling motion to get out of/loose from something.
    The little boy wriggled free from his mother's grasp.
    The cat wriggled out of his arms and fell on the floor.
    I wriggled out of my sleeping bag.
     
  3. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    Connecticut
    US-English
    wriggle (more specific than wiggle) has the idea of a snake-like
    motion:
    wiggle (much more general):
     
  4. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    I only use 'wiggle' to refer to a motion of a part of something: 'wiggle his ears,' 'wiggle his tail'

    For a whole body in motion, human or animal, I'd go with 'wriggle'
     
  5. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I agree. My late father-in-law could wiggle his ears. Most disturbing, particularly from behind.
     
  6. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    I'd never really thought about the difference. When you loose your milk teeth you can tell they are about to go because you can wiggle them. A worm on a hook used as bait when you are fishing will wriggle. Equally if you tell a small child to be still, you can guarantee they won't stop wriggling.
     
  7. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Another difference. Only one is used in this idiomatic expression:

    "How are you going to w___ggle your way out of this mess?"
     
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    According to the OED, wriggle may mean wiggle, wiggle may mean wriggle.

    I think this means that you have to work out from experience which is appropriate in any context.

    I don't think it's that hard.

    I wiggle things, I don't wriggle them.

    People wriggle.
    People also wiggle.
    But I wriggle when I move in a kind of sinuous spiral movement, I wiggle when I move from side to side.
     
  9. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    I'm surprised about the OED. I thought there was a fairly clear difference. Wiggle is the repeated small-range motion of pretty much anything and wriggle is a whole-body, spasmodic movement.
     
  10. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    You can wiggle your little finger, but I don't think you can wriggle your little finger. :)
     
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I fear that I may have oversimplified the many definitions OED gives for these words. It includes each in the definition of the other, but it also suggests that wiggle is side to side, wriggle is more sinuous.
     
  12. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    I don't know if this clears it up for you, rich...but if your girlfriend is wiggling, it's good. If she's wriggling, it's a lot better. :D
     
  13. Yul Senior Member

    Canada, French
    :thumbsup:
    :thumbsup:
     
  14. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    In fact, I have now a better understanding of their uses, I think it's a matter of collocates, ist'n it?
     
  15. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    I have never heard the word collocates, can you explain pretty please?
     
  16. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    I'm no expert in Linguistics as a science but I believe it's "a matter of collocation" in English. But since all norms of usage are based on habit, isn't pretty much everything about vocabulary 'a matter of collocation?'
     
  17. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    So I cannot use the word "collocate" here as it means the same as collocation.
     
  18. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    'Collocate' is the verb. Certain words do or do not collocate.

    Collocation is the noun. The collocation of certain words is or is not valid.
     
  19. Tennessee New Member

    English, US
    To me "wriggle" implies getting out of a tight space, either literal or figurative. It also implies to me some impediment to free movement and a desire to escape, hence the examples of the sleeping bag, the cat being held, and the little boy being restrained by his mother.
     
  20. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod


    That's my first impression as well, although I can see using the word to describe someone "wriggling out on the dance floor," with no apparent intent to escape. :)

    This has been a very interesting discussion. I had never even considered what the difference was, before this thread.
     
  21. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    Sorry I haven't made myself clear. What I was after was an explanation of what you understand the meaning to be, not the parts of speech. Collocation in English makes me think of the Italian for breakfast unless of course you are just transposing colocar into English - is that it?

    The defintion in merriam webster is:
    "transitive verb : to set or arrange in a place or position; especially : to set side by side
    intransitive verb : to occur in conjunction with something"
     

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