Is the usage of the word 'inveigle' correct in the following sentence?

What is far murkier however, is the extent to which the Russian State has managed to inveigle its tentacles into British politics and society.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word means:

  1. to win over by wiles : entice
  2. to acquire by ingenuity or flattery : wangle

How are these meanings consistent with the construction of that sentence?

  • My understanding of the meaning and usage of 'inveigle' leads me to want to leave out the tentacles. 'Inveigle itself' is a more colloquial expression.The Ngram, strangely, shows only 'himself' results for BrE. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Nigel J
    Jan 1, 2018 at 17:29
  • 3
    It's a trivial shift from sense #2 above (M-W's example [She] inveigled her way into a promotion) to She inveigled her [metaphoric] tentacles into the managerial structure. Do you find such usages "inconsistent"? I don't. Jan 1, 2018 at 17:29
  • As opposed to “straight-forward insert their tentacles into...”? It’s odd usage and, FWIW, I personally would opt for more idiomatic “inveigled their way into...” or maybe “surreptitiously wormed their way into...” but I don’t think I’d use inveigle and tentacles together. Jan 1, 2018 at 19:04
  • Definitely a clash of imagery. @FumbleFingers, I'm not so sure that is a trivial shift. 'Way' sets up a path resultative for many verbs wends her way down ... , talks her way out of ... , fought her way through ... It is very nearly a reflexive marker. Replacing way with something else less reflexive, and then following with a path PP sounds downright queer to me.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jan 1, 2018 at 19:04
  • @Phil: Each to his own, I guess. Would you have a problem with inveigled an invitation then? That one's so common it's practically a cliche. Jan 1, 2018 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


The base meaning ofinveigle is to trick or craftily induce someone to do something good for you and/or bad for that person. As has been said, this can perhaps be stretched into inveigle ones way into someone’s trust.

But my reaction to the inveigling of tentacles is that this is not yet accepted usage. As has already been said, that does not prevent us from understanding what is being said. But the understand is tinged with a sense of weirdness: the use sounds (and is) inept.

There is an obvious verb to use. What nasty creatures like cephalopods do with their long sinuous tentacles is to insinuate them.

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