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verb (used without object)
  1. to wriggle or writhe.
  2. to feel or display discomfort or distress, as from reproof, embarrassment, pain, etc.: He squirmed under the judge's questioning.
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  1. the act of squirming; a squirming or wriggling movement.
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Origin of squirm

First recorded in 1685–95; of expressive orig., perhaps echoing worm
Related formssquirm·er, nounsquirm·ing·ly, adverbun·squirm·ing, adjective


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1. turn, twist.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for squirming


verb (intr)
  1. to move with a wriggling motion; writhe
  2. to feel deep mental discomfort, guilt, embarrassment, etc
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  1. a squirming movement
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Derived Formssquirmer, nounsquirming, adjectivesquirmingly, adverb

Word Origin

C17: of imitative origin (perhaps influenced by worm)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for squirming



1690s, originally referring to eels, of unknown origin; sometimes associated with worm or swarm, but perhaps rather imitative. Related: Squirmed; squirming.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper