Main definitions of worm in English

: worm1WORM2



  • 1Any of a number of creeping or burrowing invertebrate animals with long, slender soft bodies and no limbs.

    Phyla Annelida (segmented worms), Nematoda (roundworms), and Platyhelminthes (flatworms), and up to twelve minor phyla

    • ‘When feeding is completed, the worms drop to the ground and enter the soil where they transform into shiny brown pupae.’
    • ‘They eat little worms and little insects and things, and they're a neat little animal.’
    • ‘They seem to eat more annelid worms and insects than any other prey, and chicks are fed mostly earthworms.’
    • ‘Hemp seed, sweet corn maggots and even worms can also be used.’
    • ‘Many of those could be basic life forms, such as worms and jellyfish.’
    • ‘The garter snakes mentioned in the letter generally eat frogs, worms, mice and smaller snakes.’
    • ‘Some small fish and marine worms are also eaten.’
    • ‘This is probably due to the general unhealthiness of worms grown at high temperatures.’
    • ‘For the past ten minutes I'd been watching two tiny worms crawl their way across the front step.’
    • ‘The wriggling worms had done a great transformation job on my fruit and veg waste.’
    • ‘A simple worm grader, run by an electric motor, separates the worms from the dirt.’
    • ‘The crows working in harmony with nature lived on the snails, worms, beetles and insects.’
    • ‘We peer down at the tiny worm wriggling under the lens of our microscope.’
    • ‘These chickens have seen the sun, breathed in fresh air, scratched the dirt and eaten a worm or two.’
    • ‘They also feed on small crayfish, minnows, tadpoles, worms, and insects.’
    • ‘For many years only animals such as worms, leeches and midge larvae could survive.’
    • ‘Once the trout season opens you may fish for them with fly, worm, minnow or artificial lure.’
    • ‘The son shows his father a worm in an apple that he is eating.’
    • ‘In about 3 months the worms should have changed the bedding and food wastes into compost.’
    • ‘When she came back, she pointed to a green worm crawling on her plate.’
    1. 1.1
      short for earthworm
      • ‘‘You can't just go out in your garden, dig up worms, and have them work,’ Appelhof said.’
      • ‘Frank helps me put a worm on my hook even though I can do it by myself.’
      • ‘Before tea time I moved around the lake and swapped some worms for maggots from a local angler.’
      • ‘The cassowary pecks the ground, gobbling fat worms with quick chops of its beak.’
      • ‘You should put worms on your hook to attract fish.’
    2. 1.2worms Intestinal or other internal parasites.
      ‘she ate so much so often that I thought she had worms’
      • ‘The research is based on knowledge that more than a third of the world's population harbor one or more of various types of intestinal worms.’
      • ‘Consume these drinks now and then to avoid intestinal worms.’
      • ‘Garlic helps prevent and eliminate infections as well as destroys parasites, worms and viruses in addition to stimulating the immune function.’
      • ‘Apart from TB, the staff also discovered diseases resulting from unhygienic conditions, including diarrhea and intestinal worms.’
      • ‘Parasitic worms have evolved with their human hosts over thousands of years, and as successful parasites, do not kill their hosts.’
      • ‘Did you know, for example, that in 17 th-century England, at least 80 per cent of the population had various kinds of internal parasitic worms?’
      • ‘They range in size from microscopic single-cell organisms to parasitic worms that can grow to several feet in length.’
      • ‘So infecting allergy suffers with parasitic worms could reduce their symptoms.’
      • ‘Have your dogs and cats treated regularly for worms, especially when they're young.’
      • ‘Consuming contaminated meat can lead to diarrhoea, intestinal worms or food poisoning and is especially dangerous for the very young or very old.’
      • ‘Mature worms can live for up to 2 years in the intestine.’
      • ‘Bracken is cultivated commercially in America, Canada and Brazil as a remedy for bronchitis and parasitic worms.’
      • ‘‘There is a lot of malaria there, a lot of tuberculosis and a lot of intestinal worms in children,’ he said.’
      • ‘But they have eye infections and all the other health risks associated with dirty water such as malaria and intestinal worms.’
      • ‘Garlic also helps knock out intestinal worms and other parasites.’
      • ‘Internal parasites - worms - are one of the major problems facing the beef and dairy industries in both the United States and Brazil.’
      • ‘They are all sick with diarrhea, worms and scabies.’
      • ‘Parasitic worms may be the commonest cause of chronic infection in humans.’
      • ‘So that's the slippery story on intestinal worms - you don't want them!’
      • ‘Other typically much larger organisms, including parasites such as lice, worms and scabies can also spread from person to person.’
    3. 1.3 Used in names of long slender insect larvae, especially those in fruit or wood, e.g. army worm, woodworm.
      • ‘They do not seem to favor soft foods like mealworms or flour worms, but providing them improves breeding success.’
      • ‘Other experiments have involved organisms that are less closely related to us yet easier to study, such as vinegar worms and fruit flies.’
      • ‘I snacked on sticky rice cooked in bamboo, but there were more exotic treats such as crickets, bamboo worms and bee larvae available.’
      • ‘Apple maggot earned the name railroad worm long ago for its meandering tunnels beneath the apple skin and eventually throughout the flesh.’
      • ‘Best baits are redworms, which can be trundled down to the fish in a natural manner, or alternatively often-overlooked baits such as caterpillars, wax worms, or mealworms.’
      • ‘Insects such as root worm and stalk borer create wounds that serve as entry points for disease-causing fungi.’
      • ‘They are known to eat cabbage moths, bollworms, tomato hornworms and broccoli worms.’
      • ‘We had a huge infestation of yellow woollybear caterpillars and green clover worm moths and am finding some fall armyworm moths.’
    4. 1.4 Used in names of other animals that resemble worms in some way, e.g. slow-worm, shipworm.
      • ‘Unlike the usual shipworm for this region, which bores only in the breeding season then swims away, the blacktip bores continuously throughout the year and remains in the same spot until the timbers completely disintegrate.’
      • ‘The Slow-worm is probably the most commonly encountered British reptile.’
    5. 1.5 A maggot regarded as eating corpses buried in the ground.
      ‘food for worms’
      • ‘It is also clear that the process of decay was thought to be harmful to the dead, and the action of worms in the corpse were thought to be as painful as a needle to the living flesh.’
      • ‘His body will decay slowly; bacteria, worms, fungus, and other things getting through the cheap coffin to the fermenting flesh inside.’
      • ‘I think he is worm food as he died of lung cancer at the age of 71.’
      • ‘You're born, you live, you die, you're worm food - that's all.’
  • 2informal A weak or despicable person (often used as a general term of abuse)

    ‘it was unbearable that such a worm could be so successful’
    ‘you ungrateful little worm!’
    • ‘He threw one last glance in the direction she had gone before yelling ‘Come and get me, you worms!’’
    • ‘Is that the best you could manage, George, you impotent worm?’
    • ‘Even the lowliest worm may become a man, and even the weakest man can become a god.’
    • ‘‘You despicable little worm,’ he snarled as he stomped into the house one day.’
    • ‘Don't try anything, worm, I can kill you with my mind and I wouldn't break a sweat.’
  • 3A helical device or component.

    1. 3.1 The threaded cylinder in a worm gear.
      • ‘The machine is suited for high precision, infeed and single-revolution, thread rolling, worm rolling and roll sizing.’
      • ‘But if a worm gear is to transmit mechanical power, it should be a metal worm having a thread angle of about thirty degrees.’
      • ‘In a preferred embodiment, a worm/worm gear assembly comprises a metal worm and a worm gear fabricated from a resilient material.’
    2. 3.2 The coiled pipe of a still in which the vapour is cooled and condensed.
      • ‘In distillation, the still is heated to just below the boiling point of water and the alcohol and other compounds vaporise and pass over the neck of the still into either a condenser or a worm - a large copper coil immersed in cold running water where the vapour is condensed into a liquid.’
      • ‘The worm condensed the vapor into liquor, which was collected in containers and sold.’
      • ‘The worm was a coil that was immersed into cold water and it was there that the alcohol vapour condensed into liquid.’
  • 4Computing
    A self-replicating program able to propagate itself across a network, typically having a detrimental effect.

    • ‘Over the past year our virtual mailboxes have been swamped by spam, worms, and malignant viruses.’
    • ‘Working in the security field, many of us know people who are regularly infected with viruses, worms, Trojans.’
    • ‘In this day and age of backdoors, worms, trojans and other sneak attacks, you never know who's watching.’
    • ‘Unlike a virus, a worm generally does not alter or destroy data on a computer.’
    • ‘This would help identify and flush out infiltrating viruses, worms, trojans and other malicious softwares.’


  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction Move with difficulty by crawling or wriggling.

    ‘I wormed my way along the roadside ditch’
    • ‘When it started to rain, we wormed into our bivy sacks, said good night, and pulled the drawstrings so tight that only our noses stuck out.’
    • ‘I worm around on my carpeted floor, banging my head into my Play Station Two.’
    • ‘Jared struggled at first, still in fight mode as he tried to worm out.’
    • ‘But after some logistics we managed to worm our way onto our chairs.’
    • ‘With both kids seated, getting at the bin to retrieve a sweater or pack some groceries is a pain - you have to stretch down the mesh side and worm your way in.’
    • ‘He's now wormed his way north to the land of Scopes.’
    • ‘Kaylen wormed out of Drek's arms and yawned, stretching her hands into the air.’
    • ‘Before she was aware she had moved, Ashlee was worming her way back to Blake on the couch, tears streaming down her face.’
    • ‘I climbed the ladder beside one of the sleeping bags and wormed inside.’
    • ‘While all this was going on, she had somehow wormed her way out of her gag.’
    • ‘Shrugging, he hopped down from the stool, paid for his drink, and wormed through the mass of people to the door.’
    • ‘I wormed out of the backseat, with the help of the person in front of me, and started to board one of the trains.’
    • ‘That particular mission was accomplished when some kind touristy soul let us worm our way in front of his milk crate to get closer to the barriers.’
    • ‘I had previously considered it quite a pleasant bookstore to worm about in.’
    • ‘Is it really convincing that the man could have wormed out of the cells unnoticed?’
    • ‘Finally worming out of her bed, Kali snuck into the room and hurriedly answered.’
    crawl, move on all fours, move on hands and knees, pull oneself, inch, edge, slither, slide, squirm, wriggle, writhe, worm one's way, insinuate oneself
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object and adverbial of direction Move (something) into a confined space by wriggling it.
      ‘I wormed my right hand between my body and the earth’
      • ‘Through sheer luck she managed to worm a hand into the space between her wrist and her own bloodstained neck.’
      • ‘I wormed the knife between tiny slivers of green plastic to prise free the ring pull and used pliers to grasp the toggle on that pesky foil circle.’
  • 2worm something out ofwith object Insinuate one's way into.

    ‘you wormed your way into their lives’
    • ‘How'd you worm your way into this job if you've only worked for your college's newspaper?’
    • ‘Over the next five years, militants continued to worm their way into military and intelligence jobs.’
    • ‘They will say things to try and worm their way into the affections of young people and to prey upon them.’
    • ‘Bribery and financial abuses are worming their way into the ranks of the ruling Communist Party.’
    • ‘An evil financial adviser with a ‘diabolical’ mind wormed his way into the affections of a wealthy elderly spinster to solve his own financial crisis, it is claimed.’
    • ‘According to her testimony, it is Vera who is the villain because she wormed into her family, pretending that she was a family friend.’
    • ‘And if, heaven forfend, that other guy worms his way into office again, we're really going to have to work together to defend the beloved republic.’
    • ‘Just because he's wormed his way into the headmaster's good graces doesn't mean he can't still get into trouble.’
    • ‘But he fascinated Warner and later wormed his way into the books.’
    • ‘I watched in horror as he wormed his way into her life.’
    • ‘Course architecture is definitely a tough business to worm into if you're female, but I've gotten a chance.’
    • ‘You managed to worm your way into Valerie's Thanksgiving, surely you can insinuate yourself into her Christmas as well.’
    • ‘And I didn't want Lucas worming his way into our lives and becoming a surrogate father.’
    • ‘But during that period, the weirdos and visionaries actually wormed their way into the mainstream.’
    • ‘I like to read through some archives, take a peek at the comments from other readers and generally worm my way into the life of the person.’
    • ‘Granted, it would be difficult to worm into that position, but there was time.’
    • ‘But over the years he has wormed - sorry, worked - his way into the Prime Minister's affections, a rare achievement in this fractious and fratricidal administration.’
    • ‘Cane worms his way into Rose's good graces, and slowly, the couple falls in love.’
    • ‘The people that populate this list have wormed their way into our bad books just by being themselves.’
    • ‘Can you stand one second without worming your way into someone's love life?’
    penetrate, invade, intrude on, insinuate oneself into, worm one's way into, sneak into, slip into, creep into, impinge on, trespass on, butt into
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1worm something out of Obtain information from (someone) by cunning persistence.
      ‘I did manage to worm a few details out of him’
      • ‘A lot of the data processing media or software that was in use just a few years ago is now so out of date that it is not easy to find equipment or programmes to worm their secrets out of them.’
      • ‘It took ages for Mum to worm it out of me between fits of mortified giggles.’
      • ‘"No matter what, don't let Terry worm it out of you," warned Izumi.’
      • ‘If anyone tries to worm this information out of you, they will not get it.’
      • ‘I tried to worm the answers out of William, who usually communicated with my uncle through a secure and private line.’
      • ‘I asked him finally, deciding to worm an answer out of him now.’
      • ‘For a while, they wouldn't even tell me how many digits were involved but I wormed the information out of them that there were three more.’
      • ‘You've already wormed my name out of me; isn't that enough?’
      • ‘Consorting with these monsters required all her self-control, but was worthwhile for the information she could worm out of them.’
      • ‘So he would go to children and try and worm these names out of them in a way which is deeply shocking to me.’
      • ‘She wanted to immediately worm the answer out of the Baron, but he was busy speaking.’
      • ‘Blanche wormed the details out of a very reluctant Stella with much coaxing and promising of new clothes.’
  • 3with object Treat (an animal) with a preparation designed to expel parasitic worms.

    ‘I wormed her over a course of three weeks’
    • ‘Some people worm their goats four times a year, others only once a year.’
    • ‘Therefore if the dog owner is responsible and regularly worms their dog, this serious problem will not occur.’
    • ‘She's been bathed, wormed and flead and now sleeps at the bottom of my son, Luke's, bed.’
    • ‘The council and Bayer are encouraging dog owners to clean up their pets' mess and put it in the bins provided, and make sure their dogs are regularly wormed.’
    • ‘But I had to desex mine, worm him, and I pay for his vet bills.’
    • ‘He's been wormed and treated for fleas and ticks.’
    • ‘Kitten (still nameless - after almost two weeks!) has got worms, even though we wormed her.’
    • ‘It's also a very good idea to have the cat wormed, vaccinated and treated for fleas and ear mites.’
    • ‘Molly has been desexed, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed, health checked and temperament tested and is ready for adoption from the League for just $125.00.’
    • ‘Where necessary they are microchipped, de-fleaed, wormed and vaccinated and, if the owner agrees, neutered to avoid unwanted breeding.’
    • ‘The complainant explained that the sheep had recently been wormed and vaccinated so the meat is unfit for human consumption.’
    • ‘The ponies need to be wormed and monitored regularly.’
    • ‘All the cats are desexed, vaccinated and wormed, and they make a great companion for a family or for someone living alone.’
    • ‘Your vet will need to administer the shots, but you can worm the dog yourself.’
    • ‘Obtain a list of the shots the puppy has been given and ask if he's been wormed.’
    • ‘Pets come desexed, vaccinated, microchipped (vouchers are provided to be used at participating local vets), wormed and in good health.’
    • ‘If your kitten was wormed during his first visit, the vet will give him his second worming.’
    • ‘Adult dogs should be wormed at least once a year, and at least once every six months if in contact with children.’
    • ‘One more thing, if your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, make sure he's regularly wormed.’
  • 4Nautical
    archaic with object Make (a rope) smooth by winding thread between the strands.

    • ‘From each of the thinned strands take sufficient outside yarns to worm the rope and cut off the rest.’


  • (even) a worm will turn

    • proverb (even) a meek person will resist or retaliate if pushed too far.

      ‘it was predictable that one day the worm would turn’
      • ‘‘Even a worm will turn,’ and now electricity and light, which have in the past gone to mathematics for solutions of their intricate problem, turn about and solve problems in mathematics which would require scores of years to complete.’
      • ‘He is exasperated and rushes upstairs to show his anger toward the child with the ice pick in his hand, screaming: ‘Even a worm will turn.’’
      • ‘Lady Ushant was as meek as a worm, but a worm will turn.’
      • ‘On one level, Heathcliff's ‘writhing’ allusion is clearly to the proverbial truth that, given sufficient provocation, ‘even a worm will turn’.’
      • ‘You know a worm will turn if it is trodden on?’


Old English wyrm (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Latin vermis ‘worm’ and Greek rhomox ‘woodworm’.




Main definitions of worm in English

: worm1WORM2


  • Write-once read-many, denoting a type of memory device.