Definition of squirm in English:



  • 1 Wriggle or twist the body from side to side, especially as a result of nervousness or discomfort.

    ‘all my efforts to squirm out of his grasp were useless’
    • ‘He squirmed and wriggled, ignoring the pain I know he must be feeling.’
    • ‘Strapped in their car seats, children make nightmarish passengers, wriggling, squirming and whining.’
    • ‘Helen grasped the young cat tightly in her arms, where it began to squirm nervously.’
    • ‘She tried to pick him up but he was squirming and twisting to lick her face so much that she had to set him down.’
    • ‘Noelle didn't squirm or fidget, but she appeared uncomfortable.’
    • ‘They were lying utterly still or squirming in discomfort, some cradling injured arms.’
    • ‘As if sensing his discomfort, the baby squirmed with an alarming vitality.’
    • ‘He gently took out a small bundle that began to squirm.’
    • ‘I could hardly keep still, squirming and wriggling all the time.’
    • ‘A technician discovered the dead rodent and believes it had squirmed into the body of the PC to keep warm.’
    • ‘I squirmed on the uncomfortable seat, trying to work some feeling back into my numb tailbone.’
    • ‘His body squirmed and screamed like it was too fragile for his heavy soul.’
    • ‘The child wriggled and squirmed, trying to pull himself out of their grasp.’
    • ‘Peering out past the bank, I could see our three shapes in the water, twisting and squirming in the current.’
    • ‘Befuddled by heat and sleep, she'd twist and squirm to pull on her modesty bestowing chador and headscarf.’
    • ‘Johnny was refusing to eat his Cheerios and was squirming in his chair as his mother tried to feed him.’
    • ‘I shouted, squirming and twisting my arm, trying to get it out of his grip.’
    • ‘I lay there on the wood floors of my kitchen, squirming, as my body wanted to run itself against a wall.’
    • ‘The Wolf girl was grunting and squirming, her body wiggling from side to side.’
    • ‘She paused and studied him for a long moment until he finally squirmed in discomfort.’
    wriggle, wiggle, writhe, twist, slide, slither, turn, shift, fidget, jiggle, twitch, thresh, flounder, flail, toss and turn
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    1. 1.1Show or feel embarrassment or shame.
      • ‘Making an audience squirm at provocative sex has nothing necessarily to do with encouraging thought.’
      • ‘Politicians make for an unedifying spectacle when they are cattle-prodded by party policy into squirming and writhing in unison.’
      • ‘From where Solomon stood, he could see several of the folk squirm in response to having lost all excretory control.’
      • ‘And yet he goes and lumbers his latest outfit with a name to make you wince and squirm: Incognico.’
      • ‘This wasn't supposed to happen - the plan was to make the boss squirm as he continued to act straight.’
      • ‘But if going into stores that carry smaller sizes truly makes her squirm, don't beg her to go in.’
      • ‘The mistreatment of child orphans, the poor and the women in this era is viscerally staged, making the audience squirm agonizingly in their seats.’
      • ‘I'll not mention the fact that I could actually hear the audience squirm with every failed delivery.’
      • ‘Now it was Gabe's turn to squirm and blush as crimson as roses.’
      • ‘Commenting on the report, Coun Stoddard said: ‘There are things in here which I know would make people in certain areas of my ward squirm.’’
      • ‘Christy gave a guilty squirm and immediately put her mind in full reverse, attempting to block out the next few sentences.’
      • ‘Frankie Dettori squirms when recalling the moment his credibility as a top class jockey was brought into question.’
      • ‘This was very funny stuff, much of it excruciatingly so - straight out of the theatre of embarrassment - making viewers squirm as well as laugh.’
      • ‘They went quite well, she blushed, and then squirmed as she was asked what ‘quite well’ actually meant.’
      • ‘Let us not delight in making others squirm by humiliating or embarrassing them in public.’
      • ‘Watching a Mayo team squirm in defeat is indeed a welcome sight.’
      • ‘This site will make your boss squirm as it lets you compare your salary with others in similar jobs as well as your colleagues.’
      • ‘The first debate question ever posed to fledgling presidential candidate Wesley Clark was one that might have made a practiced politician squirm.’
      • ‘For various practical and cultural reasons, religion makes the media squirm more than any other subject.’
      • ‘Admit it - deep down inside us plods patronisingly known as ‘the public’ love to see the rich and famous squirm.’
      wince, blush, flush, go red
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  • [in singular] A wriggling movement.

    • ‘The other twin let out another squeal followed by a squirm.’
    • ‘Still, even while driving in and out of Irish potholes, you'll hear no squeak or feel no squirm from the structure or fittings.’
    • ‘Li'l Bhaji gives one more satisfied squirm and dozes off looking incredibly smug.’
    • ‘The unconscious girl gave a slight squirm in the warmth of Kashiro's embrace.’
    • ‘His first reaction was a squirm of embarrassment.’
    • ‘The average foreigner is a tortured soul, trying desperately to discern any logic in the squirms and squiggles of an Indian road map.’
    • ‘The letter gives rise to a pleasurable squirm, somewhere deep in my stomach.’
    • ‘Okay, so the album's not a step forward so much as a squirm in quicksand.’
    • ‘She caught his shocked look and tried to hide a squirm.’
    • ‘Too many film-makers want the scream of shock at a big moment but forget that the real pleasure is the squirms and screams that come in the build up.’
    • ‘At its base a short squirm and section of stooping passage brings one to the first of the major features of the cave, the Canal.’
    • ‘Tanj did her best to shrug, a motion that came out as a squirm more than anything.’
    • ‘Cerise smiles that annoying smile, doing the coy squirm.’
    • ‘The dragon made a supreme squirm and got away from his captor.’
    • ‘This music is slightly denser, though, and the little squirms of static that bubble up now and then help to unsettle the music even more.’


Late 17th century: symbolic of writhing movement; probably associated with worm.