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Old 05-14-2004, 05:57 AM
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"Wiggle room" or "wriggle room"?


Co-worker was laughing at me for using the phrase "wiggle room", insisting it's an American corruption of "wriggle room". This page dates "wiggle room" at least back to 1978; I can't find any origin for "wriggle room". Anybody know?
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Old 05-14-2004, 07:25 AM
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I've always heard "wiggle room".
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Old 05-14-2004, 07:32 AM
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Can't help you with the Etymology, but I've always heard "Wriggle room" here in my part of the UK.
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Old 05-14-2004, 07:46 AM
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I've always heard 'wiggle room' but I may have been mishearing.

More to the point, does it matter? Both obviously mean almost the same thing.
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Old 05-14-2004, 08:10 AM
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"wiggle room" as in leaving oneself the room to "wiggle" out of a situation, squeeze out, writhe out, escape
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Old 05-14-2004, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shade
More to the point, does it matter? Both obviously mean almost the same thing.
Of course it doesn't really matter but the co-worker was just so smug about the American "mispronunciation" of the word, I'd love for him to be wrong.
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Old 05-14-2004, 08:17 AM
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strange, wiggle room is what I'm used to hearing and saying.
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Old 05-14-2004, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruadh
Of course it doesn't really matter but the co-worker was just so smug about the American "mispronunciation" of the word, I'd love for him to be wrong.
Wouldn't matter, if you called him on it he would just wiggle out of the situation
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Old 05-14-2004, 08:28 AM
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I've heard both, though wiggle seems far more common and is what I would say. Of course I'm American, so maybe I'm just an idiot; cursed to wander through life mispronouncing such a profound and meaningful word.
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Old 05-14-2004, 09:04 AM
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The meanings are so similiar that you have some wiggle room, and that guy should realize that.
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Old 05-14-2004, 09:43 AM
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I googled for pages containing both terms, and there only a few http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...22&btnG=Search AFAICT none were about the etymology.
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Old 05-14-2004, 11:19 AM
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Well, the oED doesn't have direct reference to either phrase, so falling back upon the tyrrany of the masses, I chose to ask the zeitgeist directly, via google:

"wiggle-room": Results 1 - 10 of about 64,200 for wiggle-room. (0.69 seconds)

"wriggle-room": Results 1 - 10 of about 2,550 for wriggle-room. (0.11 seconds) -- Did you mean: wiggle-room ?

also, less applicable but interesting anyway:
wriggle first used in written english text in 1495
wiggle first used in written english text in 1225

So right or wrong, wiggle is an older word, and wiggle-room is used 25 times more often. If he tries to shrug it off insisting that the internet is very much dominated by Americans and thus the Brits aren't well represented in the numbers, well, mutter something about the fall of old-world imperialism, and suggest they can always try and take the language back.
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Old 05-14-2004, 11:22 AM
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Well that won't really work because we're in Ireland, but thanks for your help anyway
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Old 05-14-2004, 11:48 AM
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I only just realised the way to do it. I googled for pages containing 'w(r)iggle room' AND 'colour' to see how people who tend to spell british do it.
Code:
             |  color  |  colour
-------------+-------------------
wiggle room  |  7,080  |  6,940
-------------+---------+---------
wriggle room |   177   |   156
So it doesn't look like just Americans who prefer 'wiggle'. Of course, it's possible that 'wriggle' was the original (it is more alliterative) but I don't think this strengthens your friend's position.
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Old 05-14-2004, 12:39 PM
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Canadians use the spelling 'COLOUR' and say either wiggle room or wriggle room (but I think wiggle room is more common)
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Old 05-14-2004, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst
Canadians use the spelling 'COLOUR' and say either wiggle room or wriggle room (but I think wiggle room is more common)
Can anyone think of a common word that would distingish British from Canadian? I suppose the coworker would claim it's a canadian bastardisation with the current evidence...
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Old 05-14-2004, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruadh
Co-worker was laughing
Same co-worker who doesn't wash their hands?

I am in US and have always said and heard "wiggle".
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:42 PM
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No, not the same person
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Old 05-14-2004, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shade
Can anyone think of a common word that would distingish British from Canadian? I suppose the coworker would claim it's a canadian bastardisation with the current evidence...
Do Canadians use Whinge? I know that most Americans don't. Though on one board I go to "whinging and whining" is a phrase used used by lots of posters from the US and UK both since people kept asking "what does whinge mean? why do you use whine?" using both together cuts down on that. You wouldn't get those threads in google, however, so if Canadians don't use it, it'd be a safe term to test.
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Old 05-14-2004, 10:13 PM
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"Wiggle room" is cited by the Merriam-Webster"s Collegiate(best dic. out there, if you can't afford the OED) from 1978.

I can trace the term to the US in politics from 1965. Specifically, that it was a "new term" associated with the Johnson White House.

This is NOT the "wiggle room" in your new pair of shoes.

I'm off to try to find "wriggle room" but I think it won't be that early, and not US. IMHO.
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Old 05-14-2004, 11:08 PM
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William Safire, the political columnist and etymologist, in a NYTimes column from 1985 opined that it ought to be "wriggle room" rather than "wiggle room." His rationale was that
Quote:
you can wiggle your way out of a tight spot, but you really have to wriggle to squeeze out of a trap.
The term, from all I can find, started out life as "wiggle room" in the 60's US. I can find no newspaper cites of "wriggle room" before Safire in 1985. That doesn't mean there weren't any. Perhaps it was "wriggle room" in Britspeak slightly before 1985. But I stand by my 1960's US "wiggle room" evidence.
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Old 05-15-2004, 03:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
But I stand by my 1960's US "wiggle room" evidence.
Which is... ? You've said that it goes back to the Johnson administration, but what's the exact original cite?
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Old 05-15-2004, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shade
I only just realised the way to do it. I googled for pages containing 'w(r)iggle room' AND 'colour' to see how people who tend to spell british do it.
Code:
             |  color  |  colour
-------------+-------------------
wiggle room  |  7,080  |  6,940
-------------+---------+---------
wriggle room |   177   |   156
So it doesn't look like just Americans who prefer 'wiggle'. Of course, it's possible that 'wriggle' was the original (it is more alliterative) but I don't think this strengthens your friend's position.
Actually, there's a better way to do that. Add "site:.uk" (without the quotes) to your search.

UK:
"wriggle room": 73
"wiggle room": 495

So even in the UK, almost seven times more people say "wiggle room".

US:
"wriggle room": 16
"wiggle room": 551

But in the US, thirty five times more people say "wiggle room".
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Old 05-15-2004, 06:22 AM
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I've never heard "wriggle room" before. I find that sort of surprising, since idiomatic expressions seem to get botched so often. [I'm one of those people who's going to explode the next time he sees 'for all intensive purposes'... ]
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Old 05-15-2004, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruadh
Which is... ? You've said that it goes back to the Johnson administration, but what's the exact original cite?
My cite is from 7 April, 1965. The Gettysburg Times, page 7, column 6:
Quote:
In another area, the senators differed on U.S. conduct in the war in South Vietnam. Clark(ed.--Sen. Joseph S. Clark, D-PA) said "We've gone about to the outer limit" in military action against the Communist guerrillas. He said he wants "wiggle room" left for negotiations to avoid a major war.
I was WRONG in my previous post when I said it came from the Johnson White House. I misread a 1968 cite which I found, which said the term "wiggle room" was a currently popular phrase in the White House.

I can also supply a 1967 quote from the same Senator, Jos. Clark, which uses "wiggle room" in talking about a bill.

Perhaps Clark originated the term.
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Old 05-15-2004, 08:51 PM
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Once again I seem to go against the majority. I've always said/heard wriggle room.
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Old 05-15-2004, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jastu
Once again I seem to go against the majority. I've always said/heard wriggle room.
I think that's the difference between Brit/Oz/Kiwi English and 'Merkin.

The phrase almost certainly is US origin from what I can contribute.
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Old 05-16-2004, 03:43 AM
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Great work, thanks.
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