from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Annoying, troubling, or irritating in a petty way.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Mean; contemptible.
  • Finicking; fussy.
  • noun Finicking, fussy, or over-elaborate work.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective petty, trivial, or inconsequential.
  • adjective Excessively demanding of time or attention.
  • noun (Fine Arts) Finicky or pottering work

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb Present participle of niggle.
  • adjective petty

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective (informal) small and of little importance


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • There was much less dish in the afternoon's testimony, and lots of the same kind of niggling that has made the defense so unpopular with the audience.

    The Comedian and the Momma’s Boy - Swampland - 2007

  • Having been accused at the beginning of that post of "niggling", I thought perhaps I ought to cut to the chase.

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  • So, too, we should whenever practicable lay on our colours in washes; if we begin with stippling our drawings they will be "niggling," and will be sure to look poor and "spotty."

    Little Folks (December 1884) A Magazine for the Young Various

  • At this stage of your progress, if not before, you may be assured that some clever friend will come in, and hold up his hands in mocking amazement, and ask you who could set you to that "niggling;" and if you persevere in it, you will have to sustain considerable persecution from your artistical acquaintances generally, who will tell you that all good drawing depends on "boldness."

    The Crown of Wild Olive also Munera Pulveris; Pre-Raphaelitism; Aratra Pentelici; The Ethics of the Dust; Fiction, Fair and Foul; The Elements of Drawing John Ruskin 1859

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  • This is the kind of niggling technicality that will send my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave.

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  • Of course, that kind of niggling detail tends to fly under your radar, it seems.

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  • Arthur is equivocal about whether Kallis 'absence may be a boost for opponents themselves beset by a collection of' niggling 'injuries.

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  • Within 30 minutes though things were looking rather problematic as there was a homebirth 'niggling' and both the on-call midwives were from our office.

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  • The nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, in Sydney's south west, will deliver on expectations by next year despite ongoing "niggling" problems, the federal government's nuclear advisory organisation says.

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