[ nig-ling ]
/ ˈnɪg lɪŋ /


petty; trivial; inconsequential: to quibble about a niggling difference in terminology.
demanding too much care, attention, time, etc.: niggling chores about the house.

Origin of niggling

First recorded in 1590–1600; niggle + -ing2

Related forms

nig·gling·ly, adverb

Definition for niggling (2 of 2)


[ nig-uh l ]
/ ˈnɪg əl /

verb (used without object), nig·gled, nig·gling.

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.
to spend too much time and effort on inconsequential details: It's difficult to be meticulous and not niggle.
to work ineffectively; trifle: to niggle with an uninteresting task.

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 forms

nig·gler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for niggling

  • Niggling, trifling, or idling; taking short steps in walking.

    The Slang Dictionary|John Camden Hotten

British Dictionary definitions for niggling (1 of 2)


/ (ˈnɪɡlɪŋ) /


requiring painstaking work
persistently troublinga niggling back pain


an act or instance of niggling

Derived Forms

nigglingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for niggling (2 of 2)


/ (ˈnɪɡəl) /


(intr) to find fault continually
(intr) to be preoccupied with details; fuss
(tr) to irritate; worry


a slight or trivial objection or complaint
a slight feeling as of misgiving, uncertainty, etc

Derived Forms

niggler, nounniggly, adjective

Word Origin for niggle

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