I need some information from person A. Person A is not willing to give it to me. So instead of asking directly I keep asking secondary questions hoping that he may say something that might (partially) hint me the information I need. I may even ask other people. Or keep asking so many times that person A would have had it and just told me because he can't stand my questions any more.

It's like extorting, but without using threats or violence, but cunning and perseverance. What word am I looking for?

Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally <???> the information from him.


14 Answers 14



I think the word finagle has all of the connotations you are looking for.

Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally finagled the information out of him.

Merriam Webster defines finagle as follows:

finagle - intransitive verb

1 : to obtain by indirect or involved means "finagle a ride home"

2 : to obtain by trickery "He finagled his way into the concert."

3 : to use devious or dishonest methods to achieve one's ends "A con man finagled my neighbor out of $400."

Some synonyms for finagle: deceive, manipulate, scheme, swindle, trick

[1] - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/finagle

[2] - https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/finagle

  • 1
    I like that one.
    – S Conroy
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 16:23
  • Doesn't finagle have a connotation similar to haggle? Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 19:54
  • 3
    The connotation for me was always one of subtle manipulation more so than the negotiation implied by haggling.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 19:58

It's slightly informal, but per Macmillan Dictionary...

ferret out
to discover information by searching for it in a determined way

(A metaphoric reference to using ferrets to catch small game such as rabbits, which would obviously hide to avoid being detected. The point being that the hunter's search is wilfully obstructed.)

It's often used in contexts where one or more people already have the required information, but don't want to reveal it - a TV interviewer trying to get a politician to admit potentially damaging facts, for example (see an estimated 13,300 results for ferret out the truth in Google Books).

  • This is the best answer so far. Thank you, FumbleFingers Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:37
  • No reference of cunning???
    – Ubi.B
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Looper: Well, I'd say "about 333 results" in Google Books for cunning as a ferret implies a pretty strong allusion to cunningly finding something deeply hidden. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 14:04
  • That is kind of an indirect reference. All the dictionaries merriam, oxford etc. supports "assiduous", not cunning, whiling digging information. Anyways, it is far better than any answer here.
    – Ubi.B
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 14:10
  • One more thing, OP is looking for either/or, so your answer is good :)
    – Ubi.B
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 14:11

If your methods were charm, or flattery, you might be said to have wheedled the information out of him.


or wangle

verb (used with object), wan·gled, wan·gling.

to bring about, accomplish, or obtain by scheming or underhand methods: to wangle an invitation.

I finally wangled the information out of him.

In the thesaurus entry you'll find extricate, wiggle wriggle.
If you prefer sneaky charm, you could also use coax, lure, entice, inveigle, wheedle.

  • 1
    The definition Google gives me is "(v.) obtain (something that is desired) by persuading others to comply or by manipulating events" which is even closer to what OP is asking for. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 15:24
  • 2
    Of very similar meaning would be Winkle, referring to the practice of using a pin or needle to remove Winkles from their shells to eat. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 15:47
  • @BallpointBen kind of. You wouldn't wangle the information, you'd wangle a confession... it doesn't really feel comfortable. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:28

Cajole (verb)

to persuade with flattery or gentle urging especially in the face of reluctance: coax


or Coax (verb)

to manipulate with great perseverance and usually with considerable effort toward a desired state or activity


Both of these verbs describe actions to encourage a desired outcome in the face of reluctance or defiance. While "cajole" usually relates to the idiomatic "buttering someone up" to achieve agreement, "coax" isn't always as congenial and could be related to the idiom "wearing someone down," depending on context.

Cajole may be a better fit if the "cunning" behavior could relate to flattery instead of confrontation or subversion.

"Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and coaxed/cajoled the information from him."

  • Coax is a word you use to describe dealing with stubborn animals and small children! Either works (have a vote!) Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:17
  • I was going to provide "coaxed" in a new answer but you've clearly beat me to it. This should definitely be the accepted answer since the definition lines up almost perfectly with OP's.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 16:25
  • I don't think either of these fit because OP does not describe getting information through flattery but rather by other deceitful or misdirected methods.
    – TylerH
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 20:37

What's wrong with a very simple and basic expression like to get something out of someone? Here's how the Free Dictionary defines it:

To evoke, illicit, obtain, or wrest something from someone.

Your example:

Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally got that information out of him.


You could say you gleaned the information

to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit.


Obtain (information) from various sources, often with difficulty.

‘Most of her war information is gleaned from her twice-weekly phone chats with her husband.’

ODO defines it as obtaining information from various sources, but has some examples from single sources


You could say you fished the information out

Try subtly or deviously to elicit a response or some information from someone.

  • ‘Did he really know, or was he fishing for information?’

Note that fish is used informally

to seek to obtain something indirectly or by artifice

  • to fish for compliments; to fish for information.
  • deviously suggests malicious intent, not cunning and perseverance.
    – VTH
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:27
  • 3
    @Looper Wouldn't that be Phish?
    – bookmanu
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:31
  • 1
    @Looper phishing please elucidate.
    – bookmanu
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:39
  • 2
    @Looper "laboriously" pretty much involves perseverance by definition. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:11
  • 1
    +1 Fish and (especially) Glean are both good answers. Both words - and this question - refer to attempting to gain something, within the subtext of that gain being difficult and not guaranteed. Overcoming this difficulty involves cunning. I do not understand why this answer isn't more highly voted. Google's definition: obtain (information) from various sources, often with difficulty, is pretty much OP's first paragraph distilled.
    – mcalex
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 8:05

inveigle OED

†1. trans. To blind in mind or judgement; to beguile, deceive, cajole.

As in:

Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally inveigled the information from him.

  • 3
    [silent scream] you inveigle the person, not the information! :) but it's a great word for the situation. Typical use (as shown by Merriam-Webster's examples) is [person] inveigled [their] way into [something] or [person] was inveigled into …. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:26
  • @Will Crawford. But you could also inveigle a theatre pass from someone (at least in American English).
    – S Conroy
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:41
  • Perhaps there ought to be an American-English SE? ;) Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:57


verb past tense: weaseled; past participle: weaseled

achieve something by use of cunning or deceit.
"she suspects me of trying to weasel my way into his affections"

While it can also mean "go get out of in a cunning way", and is often applied to movement, it generally connotes any action that is cunning or surreptitious.


Wrestled [from/out]

Using this in a way that the connotation does more of the description than the definition alone. This word allows you to infer the definition of coerce without the implications of it's definition and the level of force in its connotation.

  1. take part in a fight, either as a sport or in earnest, that involves grappling with one's opponent and trying to throw or force them to the ground. "as the policeman wrestled with the gunman a shot rang out"

    force (someone) into a particular position by grappling with them or trying to throw to the ground. "the security guards wrestled them to the ground" move or manipulate (something) in a specified way with difficulty and some physical effort. "she wrestled the keys out of the ignition"

  2. struggle with a difficulty or problem. "for over a year David wrestled with a guilty conscience"

Wrangled, a synonym would be another good option.


Consider "squeeze out"

Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally squeezed the information out of him.

Squeeze out

v. 1. To extract something by or as if by applying pressure: I cut open a lemon and squeezed out the juice. The detective squeezed a confession out of the suspect.

Squeeze out

squeeze out - obtain with difficulty;


Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally _____ the information from him

Any of the following words would fit the context and I think the intent.

  • Dragged - Implying that some effort was required.

  • Extracted - Implies use of tools and/or technique (allusions of torture here!)

  • Extricated - The information was stuck in some way, perhaps the person has trouble expressing it or had to be lead through the process in order to remember the important details.

  • Evinced - Revealed the truth. Perhaps to people around you while interrogating.

  • Winkled - similar to extracted, implies technical difficulty in bypassing the person's defences.

  • 3
    Dragged … out of and extracted are perfect, but please, evinced means demonstrated, halfway between showed and evidenced (or as evidenced by). Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:26
  • In context of the sentence I'd say Evinced works, if a bit of an odd choice. It holds connotations that the speaker has gotten the other person to reveal the information specifically to convince a third party. For example a courtroom interrogation to draw information from a witness. It's a bit of a shaky one, I really only included it for completeness. Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 8:41

verb Badger

If you badger someone, you repeatedly tell them to do something or repeatedly ask them questions. She badgered her doctor time and again, pleading with him to do something. [VERB noun] They kept phoning and writing, badgering me to go back. [VERB noun to-infinitive] I had foolishly allowed myself to be badgered into volunteering . [VERB noun + into] https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/badger

  • Badgering definitely works for the second case in the question, where you annoy someone until they give up.
    – barbecue
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 1:44

"Dig up" can work here:

  1. trans. To take or get out of the ground, etc., by digging or excavating; to exhume, disinter, unearth. Also fig. to obtain, find, search out

"Although he refused to tell me where he got the money from, I persevered and finally dug up the information."

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