To wriggle is to squirm and twist quickly. Think of how hard it is to hold a rambunctious puppy as it wriggles in your arms.

Wriggle sounds a lot like wiggle, and the two words very nearly mean the same thing. There is a subtle difference, though: when you wriggle, you twist, turn, or bend as you move. When you wiggle, you make more of a back-and-forth motion. In fact, these two near-homonyms have completely different etymological sources. While wiggle stems from a Germanic root meaning "cradle," wriggle's root means "to turn or bend."

Definitions of wriggle
  1. verb
    move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling)
    “The child tried to wriggle free from his aunt's embrace”
    synonyms: squirm, twist, worm, wrestle, writhe
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    make a sudden twisting motion
    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
  2. noun
    the act of wiggling
    synonyms: squirm, wiggle
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    type of:
    motility, motion, move, movement
    a change of position that does not entail a change of location
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