Definition of niggle in English:

niggle

verb

[no object]
  • 1Cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.

    ‘Doreen wanted to discuss matters that niggled at her mind’
    ‘niggling aches and pains’
    • ‘It's always there, sitting at the back of your mind, niggling away at you.’
    • ‘No I don't, but it's one of those things that is niggling at the back of my mind.’
    • ‘It has always niggled at me about birds nest soup, how someone got the idea that climbing a 40 foot pole into a cave and removing a nest made of bird spittle and putting it in a broth would somehow be a good idea.’
    • ‘It just niggled at me, and I thought I'd say something.’
    • ‘Over the years this conundrum has niggled and niggled, and some pretty heavyweight theoretical physicists tried to prove Stephen wrong.’
    • ‘So I made my way to our meeting ready to hammer them down, but my sense of fair play niggled at me.’
    • ‘But I have to admit, no noise is better than constant, niggling, riling, infuriating noise.’
    • ‘It found a crack of discontentment and niggled away at it, and in the sleepy village of Worsthorne, three miles from the deprived and run-down central housing estates of Burnley, it found a response.’
    • ‘He had laughed at her for staring at him and she had blushed and hit him on the arm but the feeling was still niggling at her mind.’
    • ‘But they also had a penchant for niggling and appeared very adept at winning penalties for laying on by effectively holding the tackler on top.’
    • ‘Yet he had planted the thought and it niggled in her mind.’
    • ‘An insistent whisper niggles at his mind, and for a moment, the wind dies down.’
    • ‘I was about to reserve a nine-night all-inclusive package to Jamaica during the second week of March when something inside niggled until it came to me.’
    • ‘I told her that I would let her know but something was niggling in the back of my mind that perhaps I had already committed to another invite.’
    • ‘One thing that niggled at his mind was the bruises that covered her body.’
    • ‘She hears it every day, niggling and nagging in the back of her mind, reminding her that she failed.’
    • ‘Somehow niggling at my brain is this apartment as a metaphor for the Korean Way of Doing Things.’
    • ‘It niggles, though; I did cut corners, and I don't like it.’
    • ‘Somehow, though, she planted this little seed of doubt which has niggled away at me.’
    • ‘There's something unnerving about her, it niggles at me.’
    irritate, annoy, worry, trouble, bother, provoke, exasperate, upset, gall, irk, rankle with
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    1. 1.1with object Criticize or annoy (someone) in a petty way.
      ‘people niggling me for doing too much work’
      complain, object, moan, fuss, nag, carp, cavil, find fault, grumble, grouse
      View synonyms

noun

  • A trivial criticism, discomfort, or annoyance.

    ‘it is an excellent book except for my few niggles’
    ‘he can only throw underarm at the moment because of a niggle’
    • ‘These are minor niggles though and the US Robotics device has stood the test of time, proving it's still a sturdy base on which to build a network around your broadband connection.’
    • ‘‘He's had a couple of niggles, but he will run again soon, though we have to be patient with him, just as we are patient with all our horses,’ said Alexander.’
    • ‘However, apart from these niggles, the Monster is great fun to ride and is the perfect first big bike’.’
    • ‘I'm not even sure that you'd have to like children to enjoy this, because it has a distinctly adult tone that frequently addresses the Big Issues in life, as well as its little niggles.’
    • ‘The City manager has given his players the weekend off in the absence of a fixture and said: ‘They need a couple of days off to get over niggles and knocks.’’
    • ‘But there has, in the past, been some niggles, such as the often interminable hassle of getting money for goods and services out of some Arab nations.’
    • ‘Yet despite the niggles and inconveniences morale remained high and 48 hours later with a tired crew and tired actors David approached the final scenes with the same unwavering enthusiasm and precision of the previous day.’
    • ‘In the light of that, my little niggles and the odd feelings of unhappiness seem pretty trivial.’
    • ‘I knew this was a good horse and this is the first time we have had a clear run with him as he has had various niggles and muscle problems.’
    • ‘I could find only two niggles - a really naff piece of thick shiny plastic piping that traversed the dashboard, and a black hole underneath the audio system that left the display looking unfinished.’
    • ‘Whistling a quick tune or two can really help you keep a positive frame of mind when life's little niggles get to you.’
    • ‘It just made impatient about having to wait four weeks before being allowed to leave all my niggles and gripes behind.’
    • ‘Now the big all-rounder may be sidelined for up to three months to cure his latest injury and fully recover from a series of niggles which have hampered him throughout the season.’
    • ‘Minor niggles like that aside, it's the safety aspect which bothers me.’
    • ‘The memory of dining and walking in that glorious Danesfield setting will long outlast any reviewer's niggles, particularly as you aren't being paid to notice them.’
    • ‘But with niggles aplenty and late tackles proliferating, it was little surprise that Rutherford and Ruthven were to exchange penalties for dubious tackles throughout the game.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If there is a niggle, it's that disc one of the two-disc set doesn't have enough on it to properly reflect the scope of Death in Vegas’ work.’
    • ‘He's got until next March, the street date for his Lion Hearts album, to sort these minor niggles out.’
    • ‘Aside from one or two niggles, which are expected to clear up in time, Kay is looking at a fairly healthy squad which he is hoping will have benefited from two heavy training sessions during the festive period.’
    minor criticism, quibble, trivial objection, trivial complaint, adverse comment, moan, grumble, grouse, cavil
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Origin

Early 17th century (in the sense ‘do in an ineffectual way’): apparently of Scandinavian origin; compare with Norwegian nigla. Current senses date from the late 18th century.

Pronunciation

niggle

/ˈnɪɡ(ə)l/