Definition of niggle in English:

niggle

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1 Cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety:

    ‘Doreen wanted to discuss matters that niggled at her mind’
    ‘niggling aches and pains’
    • ‘Yet he had planted the thought and it niggled in her mind.’
    • ‘So I made my way to our meeting ready to hammer them down, but my sense of fair play niggled at 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.’
    • ‘There's something unnerving about her, it niggles at me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It just niggled at me, and I thought I'd say something.’
    • ‘But I have to admit, no noise is better than constant, niggling, riling, infuriating noise.’
    • ‘It's always there, sitting at the back of your mind, niggling away at you.’
    • ‘She hears it every day, niggling and nagging in the back of her mind, reminding her that she failed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One thing that niggled at his mind was the bruises that covered her body.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An insistent whisper niggles at his mind, and for a moment, the wind dies down.’
    • ‘Over the years this conundrum has niggled and niggled, and some pretty heavyweight theoretical physicists tried to prove Stephen wrong.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Somehow, though, she planted this little seed of doubt which has niggled away at me.’
    • ‘It niggles, though; I did cut corners, and I don't like it.’
    • ‘No I don't, but it's one of those things that is niggling at the back of my mind.’
    • ‘Somehow niggling at my brain is this apartment as a metaphor for the Korean Way of Doing Things.’
    irritate, annoy, worry, trouble, bother, provoke, exasperate, upset, gall, irk, rankle with
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    1. 1.1[with 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It just made impatient about having to wait four weeks before being allowed to leave all my niggles and gripes behind.’
    • ‘In the light of that, my little niggles and the odd feelings of unhappiness seem pretty trivial.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He's got until next March, the street date for his Lion Hearts album, to sort these minor niggles out.’
    • ‘Minor niggles like that aside, it's the safety aspect which bothers me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whistling a quick tune or two can really help you keep a positive frame of mind when life's little niggles get to you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, apart from these niggles, the Monster is great fun to ride and is the perfect first big bike’.’
    minor criticism, quibble, trivial objection, trivial complaint, adverse comment, moan, grumble, grouse, cavil
    gripe, beef, grouch, nitpicking
    pettifogging
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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/