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

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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 The worm in the apple is that the Europeans can act independently, whether as individual nations or in concert through the EU. Dominic Green, WSJ, "Biden, Meet Your Frenemies in Europe," 27 Dec. 2020 The worm throws people off,'' remarked one large San Antonio retailer. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Making mezcal - Progress seems to have passed by a Mexican town where the worm-laced beverage is pro," 9 Dec. 2020 Barbie outfits are fun for their novelty value and work okay for tossing a worm-and-bobber combination 20 feet. John Merwin, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Fishing with Barbie," 19 Nov. 2020 Beginners should source earthworms online, with 500 earthworms — about one-half pound — as a good start, said Caldwell, a longtime worm hobbyist and Forest Preserve District staff member. Dennis Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Want a low maintenance pet that recycles garbage? Try worms," 9 Dec. 2020 Some of the excess water and natural waste from making tofu will go to the worm farm. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, "'Don't be scared to season that': Meet the father-son duo behind Arizona's new tofu company," 5 Dec. 2020 In this package for agave fans, find a book on Mezcal, a packet of chili-lime crickets, worm salt for seasoning oranges, two copitas (ceramic shot glasses), cactus picks, a small cactus and a Mexican chocolate bar made especially for Vivir. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, "11 tasty holiday gift baskets for the food-lover in your life," 25 Nov. 2020 Current treatments also cause deadly side effects in people infected with another type of worm infection known as Loa loa. Nathalie Strub-wourgaft, STAT, "Now is the time to innovate for more than 1 billion people with neglected tropical diseases," 24 Nov. 2020 Someone adds, Besides, Gretyl’s taking worm medication. Rebecca Curtis, The New Yorker, "Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit," 9 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The nighttime visitor, Parasite (2019) The cruel magic in Parasite’s big twist is the fact that the Kim family, who have slowly wormed their way into the home of the rich Park family, are good at their jobs. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Movie Scenes of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 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.

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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

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Worm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worm. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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 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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