Definition of wrangle in English:



  • A dispute or argument, typically one that is long and complicated.

    ‘an insurance wrangle is holding up compensation payments’
    • ‘A court wrangle over the legal parentage of the children will now be heard in the New Year in a unique case which is likely to raise a host of highly-complex moral and human questions.’
    • ‘The author's estate has been the subject of countless legal wrangles in recent years, as Stephen proved himself an ardent defender of both the copyright of the author's works and the family's privacy.’
    • ‘The couple's ancient cottage was gutted by fire a year ago, but wrangles over insurance left them unable to rebuild it and as a result they have slipped into mortgage arrears.’
    • ‘A legal wrangle over a seaside town's plans to honour one of its most famous sons with a commemorative plaque is set to be resolved today.’
    • ‘The commission, which was set up in 2000, was initially scheduled to report this May, but was granted an extension to 2005 after a series of wrangles over legal fees and compensation.’
    • ‘Since the attempts of the 70s, legal wrangles over ownership of the comic book hero had prevented production.’
    • ‘Talks over the scheme have been halted by legal wrangles, but drivers say that they will push for the systems to be in place within the next three to six months.’
    • ‘A legal wrangle over a three-year-old unpaid bill for dealing with the foot-and-mouth cull has cost Cumbria's tax payers around half-a-million pounds.’
    • ‘The boss of Bradford's privatised education service has reaffirmed its commitment to the district after a year-long behind-the-scenes wrangle over cash.’
    • ‘Until the legal wrangles are resolved, the houseboat residents are paying their rent directly into a bank account.’
    • ‘In 1999, council officers extended the school's capacity to three classes after wrangles with parents.’
    • ‘The continuing wrangles over who should pay for a new play area at Barrow Green, in Chippenham, may have been resolved for the moment.’
    • ‘Finally, include your home in a will that has been translated and officially recognised by local law, as failure to do this can lead to expensive and unnecessary legal wrangles down the line.’
    • ‘The community complex has been at the centre of a legal wrangle for the past two years.’
    • ‘The launch of flights between Singapore and Jakarta, which has been stalled since May amid air traffic wrangles, is now scheduled for the end of this month.’
    • ‘A sports store which burnt to the ground in a spectacular blaze may never reopen due to an insurance wrangle, the Evening Gazette can reveal.’
    • ‘Plans by the Government to buy the island and designate it as a national historic park have been dogged by controversy, including a legal wrangle over the past 20 years that went as far as the Supreme Court.’
    • ‘Trained volunteers help those with learning difficulties ‘speak up for themselves’ in disputes, whether they are legal wrangles or a disagreement with a neighbour.’
    • ‘It is feared that further legal wrangles could now leave him trapped in an institution until he reaches the age 18.’
    • ‘He has been at the club too long and had to shut out too many protests and boardroom wrangles to let it throw him now.’
    argument, dispute, disagreement, quarrel, row, fight, squabble, difference of opinion, altercation, angry exchange, war of words, shouting match, tiff
    tussle, brouhaha, fracas, rumpus, brawl, clash, scuffle, battle, war, feud
    controversy, uproar
    falling-out, set-to, run-in, shindig, shindy, dust-up, punch-up, scrap, spat, free-for-all, argy-bargy, ruckus, fisticuffs, ruction
    barney, bunfight, ding-dong, bust-up, ruck, slanging match
    broil, miff
    View synonyms


  • 1[no object] Have a long and complicated dispute.

    ‘weeks of political wrangling’
    • ‘While politicians wrangle, rangers continue working in a dangerous climate, and the parks are getting trashed.’
    • ‘There, they wrangled, argued and debated over the form the new government would take.’
    • ‘In another case, one couple has now been wrangling for a year with their builder over fixing a series of faults.’
    • ‘The tenant said the young men immediately started to wrangle with their neighbours and left the building only when the police intervened.’
    • ‘This is no time for wrangling but a moment for serious work.’
    • ‘Unions and bosses have been wrangling for months within the company's western division over a new pay deal.’
    • ‘Councillors from all three parties in Bolton have been wrangling over political power since the local elections on May 1 left a hung council.’
    • ‘We wrangle over word choice, punctuation, and which is the fastest keyboard shortcut (scrolling vs. page down key).’
    • ‘But wrangling over a £1m cash shortfall has delayed the plans by at least four to five months.’
    • ‘The couple, who are now living in rented accommodation in the village, spent most of last year wrangling with insurers.’
    • ‘This game was delayed for over a month due to wrangling over the venue, after the original fixture in Dublin fell foul of the weather.’
    • ‘The audience line-ups continue to lengthen every year with spectators wrangling to find a chair in the 500-seat theatre.’
    • ‘That the situation has been intensified by wrangling over equipment is, however, entirely predictable.’
    • ‘After much debate and wrangling we got the new bridge back in the mid-1980s.’
    • ‘By the time you've finished arguing and wrangling though, you might feel like you need another holiday.’
    • ‘The voting public was just getting interested in the debate when parties began wrangling about the costings on their manifestos.’
    • ‘There they cleared the brush, wrangled with the authorities, stretched their credit and built a house.’
    • ‘If realism is taken to mean ‘represents the world as it actually is’, then there is plenty of room for wrangling over what counts in this respect.’
    • ‘After a bit more wrangling, I decided that Mr. Manager had done me enough disservice to lose his service charge.’
    • ‘Scientists have been wrangling for decades about the precise reasons why we age.’
    argue, quarrel, row, have a row, bicker, squabble, have words, debate, disagree, have a disagreement, have an altercation, be at odds, bandy words
    contend, fight, have a fight, war, battle, feud, clash, grapple, brawl, spar, wrestle, tilt, come to blows, cross swords, lock horns, be at each other's throats, be at loggerheads
    fall out, scrap, go at it hammer and tongs, fight like cat and dog
    altercate, chop logic
    View synonyms
  • 2North American [with object] Round up, herd, or take charge of (livestock)

    ‘the horses were wrangled early’
    • ‘Bertus, an implausibly mature 16-year-old, rides at the rear as second guide and helps wrangle the loose horses.’
    • ‘Head for the open range and learn how to wrangle dogies.’
    • ‘Only yesterday, you'd have thought there was no way to wrangle that horse back into the barn.’
    • ‘Later, he would join them riding, roping and wrangling cattle on the ranch.’
    • ‘He wrangled horses for the Confederacy during the Civil War.’
    • ‘He wintered for two years with mountain man Jake Hoover, then worked wrangling cattle.’
  • 3

    another term for wangle


Late Middle English: compare with Low German wrangeln, frequentative of wrangen to struggle; related to wring.