A friend of mine recently showed me a scientific plot. It is essentially a function that goes up and down like a Sin wave or a Cosine wave. He described it as a wiggle in the data. But this "wiggle" is not moving. All definitions I have seen define wiggle as a kind of movement/motion. This function is certainly not wiggling but can this static wave-like pattern be called a wiggle? Is there a wiggle in the data?

  • yes, just like we can say that a line "goes up" even though it doesn't move. The x-axis is associated with independent variables, commonly with time. This applies to more than just graphs, though. Generally, terms that apply to motions can also describe the trails left by such motions. So a wiggling object traces out a path, that can also be said to "wiggle."
    – herisson
    Oct 23, 2015 at 7:02
  • Certainly to anyone who works with graphs or plots of some sort, a "wiggle" in a line is perfectly meaningful, if you interpret one dimension to represent the time domain.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:41
  • Could you perhaps post a picture?
    – dwjohnston
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:15

2 Answers 2


You can see the "wiggle" as a snapshot of the movement. Hence the path which "goes up and down"


I suppose in colloquial British English "wiggle" could be used to describe a shape but I think this is a confusion with the noun "squiggle, a mark or movement in the form of a wavy line".

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