worm

1 of 2

noun

often attributive
1
a
: 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)
2
a
: 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
wormlike adjective

worm

2 of 2

verb

wormed; worming; worms

intransitive verb

: to move or proceed sinuously or insidiously

transitive verb

1
a
: to proceed or make (one's way) insidiously or deviously
worm their way into positions of powerBill 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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Two types of worm were discovered in the remains — roundworm as well as whipworm — and because both are brought on by bad sanitation, the archaeologists theorize that the different infection rates relate to different approaches to waste management. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 18 Aug. 2022 With each worm weighing 10 mg of cannabidiol, there are 30 in each container. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2022 This comment would make much more sense applied to, say, a leech swallowing a worm. The Editors, Outside Online, 21 Dec. 2022 In one of the more worm-derful moments of 2022, Heidi Klum showed up to her annual Halloween extravaganza as a giant earthworm. Amy Haneline, USA TODAY, 15 Dec. 2022 Heidi Klum’s choice to portray a worm has surpassed all her previous Halloween efforts. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2022 Klum brought her annual bash back to New York City on Oct. 31, 2022, dressing as a worm in a crazy costume that took 10-plus hours to build around her. Kate Hogan, Peoplemag, 1 Nov. 2022 This is an opinion piece Foley’s Lester Smith and Bud Pigott could have coached a worm in the belly of a bass to unhook itself and give the fish a bloody lip on the way out of its mouth. Jimmy Wigfield, al, 19 Oct. 2022 Markus holds a yellow-and-green worm in the air, slick and chewed. Oliver Munday, The Atlantic, 15 Oct. 2022
Verb
Duchovny's new movie is a comedy about scheming sisters Savanna (Faris) and Macey (Collette) competing with their cousins (Duchovny and DeWitt) in a quest to worm their way into the will of their mean, terminally ill Aunt Hilda (Turner). Tommy Mcardle, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 Thanks to their unique ability to worm into DNA, viruses can be used to inject genes into cells, which can reverse some genetic diseases. Troy Farah, Discover Magazine, 22 June 2020 New technologies tend to take much longer than optimists expect to worm their way into our lives. Shira Ovide, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2022 Perry developed his own pre-pitch routine -- which involved touching his cap, face, glove, belt and pants -- and proceeded to worm his way inside hitters’ heads for the rest of his career. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 1 Dec. 2022 How do woolly worm caterpillars help forecast winter weather? Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 10 Nov. 2022 Briticisms​ and British spellings still worm their way into our copy. WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 The paper has long attached a typographical mark called a dagger (†) to titles that may have been bought in bulk by authors hoping to worm their way onto the list. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 28 Sep. 2022 There are colors that pop and sounds that worm their way into your deepest lizard brain. Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1610, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near worm

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

worm

1 of 2 noun
1
a
b
: any of various long creeping or crawling animals (as a grub or tapeworm) that usually have soft bodies
2
: a person who is hated or pitied : wretch
3
plural : infection with or disease caused by parasitic worms
4
: something in the form of a coil
5
: a usually small self-contained and self-replicating computer program that invades computers on a network and usually performs a destructive action compare trojan horse sense 2, virus sense 3
wormlike adjective

worm

2 of 2 verb
1
: to obtain by cleverness or trickery or by pleading or persuading
wormed the truth out of him
2
: to move, go, or work slowly in the manner of a worm
wormed out of the trap
wormed my way into a job
3
: to rid (as a dog) of parasitic worms

Medical Definition

worm

1 of 2 noun
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
wormlike adjective

worm

2 of 2 transitive verb
: to treat (an animal) with a drug to destroy or expel parasitic worms

More from Merriam-Webster on worm

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