One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1with object To nudge or prod.
2no object To make a jerking movement, to tug, especially of a fish tugging at bait.
Mid 19th century. Partly from the unattested Norn reflex of the Scandinavian word represented by Icelandic nugga to rub, Norwegian nugge to push, nudge, rub, scrape, and partly from the unattested Norn reflex of the Scandinavian word represented by Old Icelandic hnyggja to push or drive back, Norwegian (Nynorsk) nyggja to rub, bump, push (originally a variant of the Scandinavian word represented by Old Icelandic hnøggva to push or drive back, Norwegian (Nynorsk) nøgga to startle, cognate with Old High German hniuwan to knock over, break in pieces (Middle High German niuwen, nūwen), ultimately from the same Indo-European base as ancient Greek κνύειν to scratch).
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