ver·​min ˈvər-mən How to pronounce vermin (audio)
plural vermin
: small common harmful or objectionable animals (such as lice or fleas) that are difficult to control
: birds and mammals that prey on game
: animals that at a particular time and place compete (as for food) with humans or domestic animals
: an offensive person

Examples of vermin in a Sentence

The room was crawling with roaches and other vermin. the vermin who looted abandoned houses after the hurricane
Recent Examples on the Web Detainees find vermin such as cockroaches or body parts of rats in the food. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 9 May 2024 Seniors, in particular, have recently raised the alarm about mold infestation, vermin, lack of heat and inadequate security measures in their apartments. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, 8 May 2024 This could include, but is not limited to, major vermin contamination. Jacqueline Pinedo, Sacramento Bee, 3 May 2024 Additionally, the projection design by Shawn Duan offers a horrifying but deeply amusing illusion of the Hermans’ first two places, which are overrun by all manner of critters and vermin. Aramide Tinubu, Variety, 26 Apr. 2024 But the foundation’s buildings have been beset with heating, plumbing, elevator and electricity failures and vermin infestations. Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2024 Each ventilation hole is covered with mesh to keep out vermin and is connected to a short, curving pipe that blocks the light, helping replicate a cave’s gloom. Muktita Suhartono Nyimas Laula, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2024 Others report finding kitchens infested with vermin made rampant by fewer inspections, The Times’ Rebecca Ellis reported. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2024 South Florida’s vermin spread the contamination, as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach each contributed two restaurants to this week’s Sick and Shut Down List. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 7 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vermin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, from verm "worm" (going back to Latin vermis) + -in, -ine, suffix with diminutive or pejorative value, borrowed from Italian -ino, diminutive suffix, going back to Latin -īnus, suffix of appurtenance — more at worm entry 1, -ine entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vermin was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near vermin

Cite this Entry

“Vermin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ver·​min ˈvər-mən How to pronounce vermin (audio)
plural vermin
: small common harmful or objectionable animals (as fleas or mice) that are difficult to get rid of

Middle English vermin "small animal pests," from early French vermin (same meaning), derived from Latin vermis "worm" — related to vermicelli

Word Origin
The word vermin is used for any small harmful or annoying insect or animal that is difficult to get rid of or control. Fleas, lice, mice, rats, and even rabbits when they destroy gardens have been called vermin. However, the word vermin comes from a Latin word for a creature that is not usually thought of as troublesome. The word is vermis, meaning "worm." The word vermicelli, which English borrowed from Italian, can also be traced back to the Latin vermis. The Italians used this word for "thin spaghetti" because the strands look like "little worms," which is what vermicelli means literally.

Medical Definition


ver·​min ˈvər-mən How to pronounce vermin (audio)
plural vermin
: small common harmful or objectionable animals (as lice or fleas) that are difficult to control

More from Merriam-Webster on vermin

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