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 of finally 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 worm (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 Beating Djokovic, always in incredible physical shape, is like trying to stop a worm from wiggling. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct. 2021 For years, Burkes and an artist ex-boyfriend fantasized about building a giant worm bursting out of the playa sand. Jason Kehe, Wired, 28 Sep. 2021 But for the most part, the early bird gets the worm, or, fish, in the heat. Jim Gronaw, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 5 Sep. 2021 Other noteworthy reports from the Cape included a barn owl at South Monomoy Island, and Philadelphia vireos at Fort Hill in Eastham, Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary, Barnstable, and Mashpee, where a worm-eating warbler was also observed. BostonGlobe.com, 4 Sep. 2021 The early bird gets the worm — don’t let those applications languish. Vivian Wang, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Less scrupulous sellers may dry mushrooms that couldn’t be sold fresh, so be on the lookout for ones that may have holes from being worm-ridden. Washington Post, 6 Sep. 2021 The year after that, overseas ships were identified as the culprit for the arrival an exotic tubificid worm. Dan Egan, jsonline.com, 2 Sep. 2021 The worm secretes a neurotoxin that can cause skin irritation for some people. Praveena Somasundaram, Dallas News, 29 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Charlotte can easily worm its way into a playoff seed and break a five-year postseason drought. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 17 Oct. 2021 Undergrad was spent trying to worm his way into productions at the prestigious Yale School of Drama. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone, 2 Sep. 2021 Fauci urged those considering taking the drug Invermectin -- which is used to treat parasites such as worms and lice in humans and is used by veterinarians to de-worm large animals -- to avoid it. Amanda Sealy And Hollie Silverman, CNN, 30 Aug. 2021 This type of attack, in which hackers worm their way into companies’ systems, steal data and try to sell it online, has been a common tactic for years, cybersecurity experts say. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 The request may be coming from someone looking to worm into your professional network to pilfer trade secrets, disrupt your systems, steal your identity or just harm your public reputation or brand. Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, 8 June 2021 The hackers targeting Kaseya managed to compromise its VSA platform and then use it as a jumping-off point to worm their way in to other companies’ systems. Martin Giles, Forbes, 3 July 2021 After years of data privacy blunders that have dinged Facebook’s reputation, gamers may be more skeptical of Facebook’s attempts to worm its online ad business into VR. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 28 June 2021 The brother’s lame attempt, after the Enquirer exposed him as its source, to worm his way into the billionaire’s good graces by supporting the Saudi narrative. WSJ, 11 May 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for worm



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
: 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
2 : earthworm
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 worm (audio) \ adjective


transitive verb

Medical Definition of worm (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on worm

Nglish: Translation of worm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of worm for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about worm


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