From Middle English wranglen, from Low German wrangeln (to wrangle), frequentative form of wrangen (to struggle, make an uproar); equivalent to wring +‎ -le. Related to Danish vringle (to twist, entangle) and German rangeln (to wrestle). More at wrong, wring.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹæŋ.ɡəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋɡəl


wrangle (third-person singular simple present wrangles, present participle wrangling, simple past and past participle wrangled)

  1. (intransitive) To bicker, or quarrel angrily and noisily.
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i]:
      Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,
      And I would call it, fair play.
    • 1716, Joseph Addison, The Freeholder, No. 39, Friday, May 4, 1716, in The Works of Joseph Addison, Volume III, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837, p. 235,[1]
      He did not know what it was to wrangle on indifferent points, to triumph in the superiority of his understanding, or to be supercilious on the side of truth.
    • 1941, Emily Carr, “Chapter 18”, in Klee Wyck[2]:
      I stood where land and sea wrangled ferociously over the overlap.
  2. (transitive) To herd (horses or other livestock); (humorous) to supervise, manage (people).
    • 12 January 1962, “The Second Time Around”, in Time[3]:
      When she tries to wrangle a calf, she ends up flat on her face in the barnyard muck.
    • 3 October 2010, Sean Gordon, “Gionta settles in, stands out”, in The Globe and Mail[4]:
      Wrangling a chaotic group of five-year-olds is unnerving enough without the added stress of a famous NHLer in the room helping lace his son’s skates.
  3. (transitive, by figurative extension from the sense with animals and people) To gather and organize (facts, information, data), especially in ways that require sentience rather than automated methods alone, as in data wrangling.
    Synonym: munge
  4. (transitive) To involve in a quarrel or dispute; to embroil.
    • 10 April 1649, Robert Sanderson, Letter to N. N. respecting the relative Merits of the Presbyterians and the Independents[5]:
      When we have wrangled ourselves as long as our wits and strengths will serve us, the honest, downright sober English Protestant will be found, in the end, the man in the safest way, and by the surest line []


Derived termsEdit



wrangle (plural wrangles)

  1. An act of wrangling.
    Wrangle and bloodshed followed thence.
  2. An angry dispute.
    • January 31 2020, Boris Johnson, Brexit Day speech:
      For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come. And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss. And then of course there is a third group — perhaps the biggest — who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end.