A niggle has a number of variable meanings. It can be something as simple as a persistence of attention to an insignificant issue. Or it can be to work ineffectively. In soccer (or international football) a niggle is an injury, hopefully a small one.
But the definition I have chosen to pursue today is that a niggle is a persistent, seemingly unending, complaint about something that isn’t worth paying attention to.
If someone lives on a busy street, and constantly grouses about all the traffic, noise, and dust, it can have meaning at first, but can become tiresome when it persists. If, every time a specific ad appears on television, someone makes the same complaint about its lack of good taste, it is a niggle. If a parent insists in mentioning the fact that one’s bedroom is a mess, that niggle can become a naggle.
You get the point. There are many important issues in the world about which to be complaining (poverty, disease, terror, the economy, war, etc.) But when people continually insist upon niggling about the rising cost of caviar, it can be disconcerting.
Obviously, this word popped into my awareness this week in an article in the news about the political campaigns in the U.S. It probably didn’t take you long to bet that I was going there. I read someone’s comment that there are enough serious issues to debate in this long, tedious campaign season, without niggling on and on about inconsequential points. There have been a multitude of rude, offensive and even blatantly racist or misogynistic comments to keep us busy. We really don’t have to deal with day after day of commentary about Donald Trump’s hair, Bernie Sanders’ eyebrows, or a candidate’s pronunciation of Nevada. (It’s ne-vadd-ah, not ne-vah-dah.]
Image Credit: Cultural Folly Lexicon