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niggle

[nig-uh l]
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verb (used without object), nig·gled, nig·gling.
  1. to criticize, especially constantly or repeatedly, in a peevish or petty way; carp: to niggle about the fine points of interpretation; preferring to niggle rather than take steps to correct a situation.
  2. to spend too much time and effort on inconsequential details: It's difficult to be meticulous and not niggle.
  3. to work ineffectively; trifle: to niggle with an uninteresting task.
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Origin of niggle

1610–20; < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian nigla to be penurious (ultimately < Old Norse hnøggr stingy, cognate with Old English hnēaw); cf. niggard
Related formsnig·gler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

doubtercomplainantcomplainerquibblercavilercensornitpickercarperzappermuckrakerdisparagermalignerslandererworriernaggerfaultfindercriticizeraristarchcensurerfretter

British Dictionary definitions for niggler

niggle

verb
  1. (intr) to find fault continually
  2. (intr) to be preoccupied with details; fuss
  3. (tr) to irritate; worry
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noun
  1. a slight or trivial objection or complaint
  2. a slight feeling as of misgiving, uncertainty, etc
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Derived Formsniggler, nounniggly, adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Scandinavian; related to Norwegian nigla. Compare niggard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for niggler

niggle

v.

1590s (implied in niggling), possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian dialectal nigla "be busy with trifles"), perhaps related to source of niggard. Related: Niggled; niggling; niggler.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper