noun, often attributive
\ˈwərm \

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 \ adjective

Synonyms for worm

Synonyms: Verb

belly, crawl, creep, grovel, slide, slither, snake, wriggle

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Examples of worm in a Sentence


I often see worms in the garden. We always used worms as bait for fishing.


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

The worm that caused Hannah’s elephantiasis was also once widespread. The Economist, "How Sierra Leone is beating tropical diseases," 23 June 2018 Cutbait, chicken livers and worms are good for targeting bottom-feeding catfish and sturgeon. Jordan Rodriguez, idahostatesman, "Fishing is hitting its summer stride across southern Idaho," 8 June 2018 Bait the hook with a live cricket or a worm, cast it near shallow cover and watch for the cork to dart out of sight. Gary Garth, USA TODAY, "Easy to find and fun to catch, bluegill are America’s fish," 25 May 2018 Access to data can also be obtained via small programs generically called viruses, worms, trojans or bots. Kirk Sides, Houston Chronicle, "Friendswood High cyber team offers advice on cyber security," 2 May 2018 The new species, Trilobodrilus ellenscrippsae, is a half-millimeter-long annelid, or segmented worm, in the family Dinophilidae. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Tiny sand worm named for La Jolla luminary," 6 Apr. 2018 Celery Growing Problems Celery’s main enemies are parsley worms, carrot rust flies, and nematodes. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Your Own Crunchy Celery," 19 Apr. 2017 Traveling during the summer to conduct field work, Shimomura studied bioluminescent fireworms in Bermuda, cave worms and limpets in New Zealand, and a plethora of glowing bacteria, twinkling fireflies and neon-colored squid and krill. Harrison Smith, The Seattle Times, "Osamu Shimomura, atomic blast survivor and Nobel-winning chemist, dies at 90," 23 Oct. 2018 The raw ingredients Yoon worked with included grasshoppers, crickets, meal worms, and silkworm pupae. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Ars eats more bugs, finds a few we like," 30 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Funk, with its muscular, undulating beats and ear-worming rhythms, brings people together on the dance floor. James Grebey, GQ, "Chromeo Are Here Because You Need Funk in Your Life," 12 June 2018 The researchers will look at pathology slides of patients’ tumors to see if white blood cells are worming their way into the cancers. Gina Kolata, New York Times, "Doctors Said Immunotherapy Would Not Cure Her Cancer. They Were Wrong.," 19 Feb. 2018 Politics, as with most punk acts, have wormed their way into the band’s lore. Jessi Roti, chicagotribune.com, "A grander, less thrashy Iceage still lets the music speak for itself," 19 June 2018 Sounds of the big, flat palm fronds slapping in the breeze wormed into my ears. Annabelle Dunne, Vogue, "I Took 30 Days Off From My Job, Family, and Cell Phone—Here’s What Happened," 17 June 2018 This includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, worming, microchipping, heartworm negative test and a Hamilton County dog license. Jennie Key, Cincinnati.com, "Find a fur baby at Cincinnati Natural Foods," 7 June 2018 When inspiration strikes or a kernel of thought worms its way into your head, digital notation on a smartphone is far better to reference later than scraps of paper strewn about one’s physical life. Rob Manker, Naperville Sun, "Manker: It's cold sweat time when your smartphone is suddenly gone," 7 June 2018 Having raised one of those means that baseball has wormed its way into some perpetual corner of my psyche, a lot like how baseball lingo has seeped throughout our American culture and language. Edie Ravenelle, BostonGlobe.com, "How one pro pitcher’s parents helped him become a pro," 10 Apr. 2018 Suppose some idiot student managed to worm his way around whatever precautions and stuck his hand in the tiger’s cage? Breanna Edwards, The Root, "A Catholic School in Florida Had a Caged Tiger at Their Jungle-Themed Prom and WTF?," 14 May 2018

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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Statistics for worm

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for worm

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

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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 \

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 \

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 \ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on worm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with worm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for worm

Spanish Central: Translation of worm

Nglish: Translation of worm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of worm for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about worm

Comments on worm

What made you want to look up worm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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