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 Straight Tail worm in Alabama Craw, both rigged on a shaky-head jig with 10 pound fluorocarbon leader and 15 pound braid. Frank Sargeant, al, "Alabama Bass Trail teams turn up big catches at Lake Wheeler," 14 Apr. 2021 The discovery of the worm’s glowing death wave owes a lot to luck. Christopher Crockett, Scientific American, "Glowing, Glowing, Gone: Cell Fluorescence Casts Light on How Death Spreads Throughout Body," 2 Aug. 2013 The fate of the worm had always remained a tender subject for him. Alex Vadukul, New York Times, "Bruce Blackburn, Designer of Ubiquitous NASA Logo, Dies at 82," 18 Feb. 2021 This allows longer casts upstream or down to drift the worm just above the bottom. Bill May, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Bill May: Worm fishing for trout, and more | OUTDOORS COMMENTARY," 20 Mar. 2021 Sunday's worm moon will be the fourth-closest full moon to Earth in 2021, according to Nexstar Media Wire. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "A 'worm' moon will rise Sunday evening. By some definitions, it's a 'super worm moon.'," 26 Mar. 2021 While not a worm, DearCry does share certain behavioral aspects with WannaCry. Brian Barrett, Wired, "The Peculiar Ransomware Piggybacking Off of China’s Big Hack," 21 Mar. 2021 There’s a display window on the handlebar that shows an analog representation of the terrain—twist up to low gear, and the worm inches up to depict a hill. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Priority Current Is a Stealth Speed e-Bike," 16 Mar. 2021 Like the insulin-producers, these worm-hunting cone snails simulate chemicals naturally found in their prey. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Cone Snails Are Liars and Murderers," 12 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While hackers see value in trying to get into connected vehicles, having someone worm their way into your car is not exactly top of mind for people thinking about autonomous and connected vehicles. Laura Sky Brown, Car and Driver, "Connected-Car Hacking Is a Perennial Worry and a Constant Fight," 25 Mar. 2021 Of course a dopey conspiracy theory would worm its way into the conversation. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "How the disproved 'Sharpiegate' conspiracy theory made Arizona a national media punchline," 5 Nov. 2020 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

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm. Accessed 9 May. 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
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
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

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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