The Joy of Language Learning

Wriggly Words

We have learned about lines and the angles when they meet specific criteria like acute angle, obtuse angle, right angles, etc. An oblique line is neither perpendicular nor parallel. They are just two lines at a slant with each other. But if we say Person A referred to Person B ‘ Obliquely,’ it means he indirectly referred to him. Then there are the obliques that are the muscles located on the sides of the abdomen.

Image Credits: Bryce S./
Image Credits: Jason Markle/

Looking askance means to look sideways. It can also be used to describe suspicious or disapproving looks. The Goans looked askance at the tourists littering the beaches during New Year’s Eve. Many Middle Eastern countries continue to look askance at the notions of democracy and secularism.

Image Credits: Steven Suliawan/

Some other similar words are askew, which means obliquely or turned towards one side – the pictures were hanging askew after gusts of wind blew in through the open windows, which means the painting got tilted and is probably hanging from one corner.

Image Credits: Jordan Thomason/
A picture that went askew corrected

Awry, which means uneven or improper, as in, his plans (or investments) went awry or how safety precautions are taken if something goes awry. Awry comes from the same root as wriggle (twist the body) and wry, which earlier meant to twist or turn oblique but is now more commonly used in the sense of ironic or obliquely humorous (as in, a wry remark)—as in the rat wriggled itself out of the rat trap. Chandler from F.R.I.E.N.D.S has a wry sense of humor.

Image Credits: Sahar Esfandiari
Cosmetic surgery went awry                             
Image Credits: Gwoeii/
A worm wriggling out of an apple.

A biased coin

Bias and unbiased also come from a Greek root meaning slanted or oblique. Like we might say, the dice in the snake and ladder game was biased; hence she won. Or we could say The Jury was unbiased in reaching a verdict.

Image Credits: Anand Vardhan/
An Indian newspaper that tries to be unbiased.

Tabular Summary:

 oblique neither parallel nor at right angles to a specified or implied line; slanting
 askancewith an attitude or look of suspicion or disapproval
 askewnot in a straight or level position.
 wriggle twist and turn
awry away from the usual or expected course
 wry using or expressing dry, especially mocking humor
 biasedunfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something
unbiased impartial.


Welcome to your Wriggly Words

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(The New Indian Express) Here obliquely means:

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”The increasing troubles of the retail behemoth Amazon India in recent months too could be ascribed to a mindset that looks askance at foreign players. Whether or not there is any truth in the charge that Amazon is sought to be harassed to help competing Indian companies, the government needs to be clear-headed about the role of the foreign capital in the economy.” (The Free Journal Press) Here askance means:

This house can best be described as:

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(TOI). Here going awry means:

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(University of Tokyo) Wriggle in the 2nd para 4th line means:

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Click on the image below to solve the crossword.

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