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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from worm


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

Synonyms for worm

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Every summer, three members of each household are issued permits to harvest cordyceps: a parasitic fungus that overtakes grub-like worms that live underground, its location betrayed by a telltale string of green at the surface. Chris Jones, WSJ, "A Rare Look at One of the World’s Most Isolated Mountain Treks," 4 Feb. 2020 There are also bugs and insects like beetles, cockroaches, flies, and worms. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Here are the 62 brand-new emoji for 2020," 30 Jan. 2020 Hunter’s Timon tends more toward rough playfulness, interacting with the audience in the front rows with some edgy but not too disquieting banter, and getting laughs by inveigling the unctuous Painter into eating worms. Geoffrey O’brien, The New York Review of Books, "A Timon for Our Time," 29 Jan. 2020 Below the dam, trout fishing will be slow due to excessive flow, but will get good again as soon as the discharge rate returns to normal levels—live worms under a bubble float does the job; . Frank Sargeant, al, "Friday Fishing Report: What’s biting on Alabama lakes?," 18 Jan. 2020 These come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. oregonlive, "Hillsboro student wins $1,000 for growing monster cabbage, learning about nutrition, nurturing and worms," 10 Jan. 2020 Birds were up to three times less likely to find worms in the iridescent wing cases than in the noniridescent ones, the team reports today in Current Biology. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "This shiny beetle case is a surprising form of camouflage," 23 Jan. 2020 Schistosome worms infect more than 200 million people globally, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Chelsea L. Wood, The Conversation, "Identifying aquatic plants with drones could be the key to reducing a parasitic infection in people," 17 Jan. 2020 This meant hours upon hours of listening to nervous Koreans analyze Harry Potter or explain worm digestion. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "Telling Stories In Order to Live: On Writing and Money," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Will Alayah worm her way back into the remaining group of bachelorettes? oregonlive, "‘The Bachelor’ 2020: How to watch Episode 4, Season 24 online without cable," 27 Jan. 2020 Mentions of the blockchain and cryptocurrency on corporate earnings calls in 2017 were double that of the year prior, according to an analysis by Fortune, and the terms soon began worming their way into corporate nomenclature. Paris Martineau, Wired, "Everything and Nothing Is a Tech Company Now," 26 Dec. 2019 To his chagrin, Kendi realized his own experience was a prime example of how racist ideas quietly worm their way through the culture. David Montgomery, Washington Post, "The Anti-Racist Revelations of Ibram X. Kendi," 14 Oct. 2019 Portable technology, however, has wormed its way under our covers. Brian Fagan, Quartzy, "The bizarre 77,000-year history of beds," 4 Oct. 2019 The shocking pervasiveness suggested that rather than being transmitted from animal to animal like the flu, the virus had wormed its way into the koalas’ sperm and egg cells and was being passed down from parent to child just like any other gene. Quanta Magazine, "Killer Virus Is Invading Koala DNA," 4 Mar. 2015 So how did Schitt’s Creek manage to worm its way into the hearts of Emmy voters? Sarah Todd, Quartz, "The surprise Emmy nods for “Schitt’s Creek” are also a win for Netflix," 18 July 2019 Rose is an uptight scientist who uses her position to worm her way into the new principal’s sphere. Sandra Dallas, The Denver Post, "Regional books: “This Boy’s War,” “The Dead Girl in 2A” and more," 18 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about worm

Time Traveler for worm

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for worm

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm?show=0&t=1393824273. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on worm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for worm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!