noun, often attributive
\ ˈwərm How to pronounce worm (audio) \

Definition of worm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : earthworm broadly : an annelid worm
b : any of numerous relatively small elongated usually naked and soft-bodied animals (such as a grub, pinworm, tapeworm, shipworm, or slowworm)
2a : a human being who is an object of contempt, loathing, or pity : wretch
b : something that torments or devours from within
3 archaic : snake, serpent
4 : helminthiasis usually used in plural
5 : something (such as a mechanical device) spiral or vermiculate in form or appearance: such as
a : the thread of a screw
b : a short revolving screw whose threads gear with the teeth of a worm wheel or a rack
c : archimedes' screw also : a conveyor working on the principle of such a screw
6 : a usually small self-contained and self-replicating computer program that invades computers on a network and usually performs a destructive action


wormed; worming; worms

Definition of worm (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move or proceed sinuously or insidiously

transitive verb

1a : to proceed or make (one's way) insidiously or deviously worm their way into positions of power— Bill Franzen
b : to insinuate or introduce (oneself) by devious or subtle means
c : to cause to move or proceed in or as if in the manner of a worm
2 : to wind rope or yarn spirally round and between the strands of (a cable or rope) before serving
3 : to obtain or extract by artful or insidious questioning or by pleading, asking, or persuading usually used with out offinally wormed the truth out of him
4 : to treat (an animal) with a drug to destroy or expel parasitic worms

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Other Words from worm


wormlike \ ˈwərm-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wormlike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for worm

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of worm in a Sentence

Noun I often see worms in the garden. We always used worms as bait for fishing. Verb He slowly wormed through the crowd. He slowly wormed his way through the crowd. You should have the dog vaccinated and wormed.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun His public health credentials include helping to improve millions of lives with his work to eliminate guinea worm disease and river blindness as executive director of the Carter Center. Brett Murphy, USA TODAY, "“It is a slaughter”: Infectious disease icon asks CDC director to expose White House, orchestrate his own firing," 6 Oct. 2020 Penn State and Cornell have jumping worm fact sheets online, including tactics to flush them out and eradicate them. Ellen Nibali, baltimoresun.com, "Garden Q&A: Pickerelweed and Asian jumping worms," 1 Oct. 2020 The sperm is the oldest example yet to be identified—50 million years older than the previous record-holder, which was found in the cocoon of an extinct species of Antarctic worm. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Discover Oldest Sperm Yet Preserved in Amber," 21 Sep. 2020 Examples include blood, bone, compost, manures, seaweed, sugars, grains, meals and worm castings. Dallas News, "Why you should use organic fertilizer (and never touch the synthetic stuff)," 28 Sep. 2020 The company’s goal is to reduce the population of this kind of worm without pesticides. Eric Niiler, Wired, "Can a Genetically Modified Bug Combat a Global Farm Plague?," 24 Sep. 2020 The investigation into Stuxnet, the worm that’s widely believed to have targeted Iran’s nuclear program a decade ago, was one of the first times researchers had discovered the tactic being used. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "0days, a failed patch, and a backdoor threat. Update Tuesday highlights," 12 Aug. 2020 The problem is brown spot disease and the rice worm, which thrive when there's too much water and humidity in the rice wetlands. Frank Vaisvilas Green Bay Press-gazette, Star Tribune, "Climate change is having a negative effect on the wild rice that is grown in this region," 21 Sep. 2020 These are signs the iron worm has been hard at work: rust. Ben Wojdyla, Popular Mechanics, "How to Prevent and Remove Rust on Your Car Like a Pro," 8 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The same goes for the oleaginous Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw), the legal clerk who can worm into people’s brains, as if into their guts, with his show of humility. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Charles Dickens at the Movies," 28 Aug. 2020 The virus that causes Covid-19 can worm its way into any cell with an ACE2 receptor, regardless of the concentration. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "What we (don’t) know about Covid-19’s long-term health effects," 1 July 2020 Diving plugs, or crankbaits, like Bandits, are catching fish, but not worm harnesses with tandem spinners that are usually hot at this time of year. cleveland, "Mayflies are in full flight over Lake Erie, which helps those seeking walleye and perch: Northeast Ohio fishing report for Thursday, June 25," 25 June 2020 Unlike Sanders, Biden simply does not seem to see the problem with allowing lobbyists and plutocratic interests to worm their way inside his campaign. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Biden’s Path to Party Unity Begins With Concessions," 23 Apr. 2020 But even if a treacherous automaton had wormed its way into that position, a human would have to program, monitor and maintain the thing. Greg Jefferson, ExpressNews.com, "Jefferson: Manufacturing is having its day in S.A.," 14 Feb. 2020 The black community was shrinking — dwindling — long before the tech industry wormed its inevitable way into the city. Oriana Koren, SFChronicle.com, "In San Francisco, a Black Brunch Club celebrates community and kinship," 28 Feb. 2020 The nighttime visitor, Parasite (2019) The cruel magic in Parasite’s big twist is the fact that the Kim family, who have slowly wormed their way into the home of the rich Park family, are good at their jobs. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Movie Scenes of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 The South Korean film about a poor family of grifters who worm their way into the lives of a rich but naive household became the first non-English-language film to win best picture in the history of the Oscars. NBC News, "South Koreans celebrate big wins for 'Parasite' at the Oscars," 10 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'worm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of worm


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1610, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for worm


Middle English, from Old English wyrm serpent, worm; akin to Old High German wurm serpent, worm, Latin vermis worm

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Time Traveler for worm

Time Traveler

The first known use of worm was before the 12th century

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Statistics for worm

Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for worm


How to pronounce worm (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of worm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long, thin animal that has a soft body with no legs or bones and that often lives in the ground
: the young form of some insects that looks like a small worm
informal + disapproving : a person who is not liked or respected : a very bad person



English Language Learners Definition of worm (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move or proceed by twisting and turning
: to give (an animal) medicine that destroys the small worms that live inside it and cause illness


\ ˈwərm How to pronounce worm (audio) \

Kids Definition of worm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually long creeping or crawling animal (as a tapeworm) that has a soft body
3 : a person hated or pitied
4 worms plural : infection caused by parasitic worms living in the body a dog with worms

Other Words from worm

wormlike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective


wormed; worming

Kids Definition of worm (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move slowly by creeping or wriggling She rolled on her back, her tears worming down her face into her ears.— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
2 : to get hold of or escape from by trickery I tried to worm my way out of trouble. … the doctor had wormed this secret from him …— Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
3 : to rid of parasitic worms


\ ˈwərm How to pronounce worm (audio) \

Medical Definition of worm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of various relatively small elongated usually naked and soft-bodied parasitic animals (as of the phylum Platyhelminthes)
2 : helminthiasis usually used in plural a dog with worms

Other Words from worm

wormlike \ -​ˌlīk How to pronounce wormlike (audio) \ adjective

Medical Definition of worm (Entry 2 of 2)

: to treat (an animal) with a drug to destroy or expel parasitic worms

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