[ wurm ]
See synonyms for: wormwormedwormingwormlike on Thesaurus.com

  1. Zoology. any of numerous long, slender, soft-bodied, legless, bilaterally symmetrical invertebrates, including the flatworms, roundworms, acanthocephalans, nemerteans, gordiaceans, and annelids.

  2. (loosely) any of numerous small creeping animals with more or less slender, elongated bodies, and without limbs or with very short ones, including individuals of widely differing kinds, as earthworms, tapeworms, insect larvae, and adult forms of some insects.

  1. something resembling or suggesting a worm in appearance, movement, etc.

  2. Informal. a groveling, abject, or contemptible person.

  3. the spiral pipe in which the vapor is condensed in a still.

  4. (not in technical use) screw thread (def. 1).

  5. Also called worm screw . a rotating cylinder or shaft, cut with one or more helical threads, that engages with and drives a worm wheel.

  6. something that penetrates, injures, or consumes slowly or insidiously, like a gnawing worm.

  7. worms, (used with a singular verb)Pathology, Veterinary Pathology. any disease or disorder arising from the presence of parasitic worms in the intestines or other tissues; helminthiasis.

  8. (used with a plural verb)Metallurgy. irregularities visible on the surfaces of some metals subject to plastic deformation.

  9. the lytta of a dog or other carnivorous animal.

  10. computer code planted illegally in a software program so as to destroy data in any system that downloads the program, as by reformatting the hard disk.

verb (used without object)
  1. to move or act like a worm; creep, crawl, or advance slowly or stealthily.

  2. to achieve something by insidious procedure (usually followed by into): to worm into another's favor.

  1. Metallurgy. craze (def. 8a).

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to move or advance in a devious or stealthy manner: The thief wormed his hand into my coat pocket.

  2. to get by persistent, insidious efforts (usually followed by out or from): to worm a secret out of a person.

  1. to insinuate (oneself or one's way) into another's favor, confidence, etc.: to worm his way into the king's favor.

  2. to free from worms: He wormed the puppies.

  3. Nautical. to wind yarn or the like spirally round (a rope) so as to fill the spaces between the strands and render the surface smooth.

Origin of worm

before 900; Middle English (noun); Old English wyrm, dragon, serpent, worm; cognate with Dutch worm,German Wurm,Old Norse ormr; akin to Latin vermis

Other words from worm

  • wormer, noun
  • wormlike, wormish, adjective

Words Nearby worm

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use worm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for worm (1 of 2)


/ (wɜːm) /

  1. any of various invertebrates, esp the annelids (earthworms, etc), nematodes (roundworms), and flatworms, having a slender elongated body: Related adjective: vermicular

  2. any of various insect larvae having an elongated body, such as the silkworm and wireworm

  1. any of various unrelated animals that resemble annelids, nematodes, etc, such as the glow-worm and shipworm

  2. a gnawing or insinuating force or agent that torments or slowly eats away

  3. a wretched or spineless person

  4. anything that resembles a worm in appearance or movement

  5. a shaft on which a helical groove has been cut, as in a gear arrangement in which such a shaft meshes with a toothed wheel

  6. a spiral pipe cooled by air or flowing water, used as a condenser in a still

  7. a nontechnical name for lytta

  8. anatomy any wormlike organ, structure, or part, such as the middle lobe of the cerebellum (vermis cerebelli): Technical name: vermis

  9. computing a program that duplicates itself many times in a network and prevents its destruction. It often carries a logic bomb or virus

  1. to move, act, or cause to move or act with the slow sinuous movement of a worm

  2. (foll by in, into, out of, etc) to make (one's way) slowly and stealthily; insinuate (oneself)

  1. (tr; often foll by out of or from) to extract (information, a secret, etc) from by persistent questioning

  2. (tr) to free from or purge of worms

  3. (tr) nautical to wind yarn around (a rope) so as to fill the spaces between the strands and render the surface smooth for parcelling and serving

Origin of worm

Old English wyrm; related to Old Frisian wirm, Old High German wurm, Old Norse ormr, Gothic waurms, Latin vermis, Greek romos woodworm

Derived forms of worm

  • wormer, noun
  • wormlike or wormish, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for WORM (2 of 2)


/ (wɜːm) /

n acronym forcomputing
  1. write once read many times: an optical disk that enables users to store data but not change it

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

Scientific definitions for worm


[ wûrm ]

  1. Any of various invertebrate animals having a soft, long body that is round or flattened and usually lacks limbs. The term worm is used variously to refer to the segmented worms (or annelids, such as the earthworm), roundworms (or nematodes), flatworms (or platyhelminths), and various other groups.

  2. A destructive computer program that copies itself over and over until it fills all of the storage space on a computer's hard drive or on a network.

a closer look

Earthworms are one of many types of worms, including those of the flat and round species. Over a century ago, Charles Darwin spent 39 years studying earthworms and wrote The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms with Observations on Their Habits, an entire book that described his research on earthworm behavior and intelligence and further explained how important earthworms are to agriculture. “Long before [the plow] existed,” he wrote, “the land was, in fact, regularly plowed and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world.” Darwin was referring to the way that earthworms naturally mix and till soil, while both improving its structure and increasing its nutrients. As they tunnel in the soil, earthworms open channels that allow in air and water, improving drainage and easing the way for plants to send down roots; they also carry nutrients from deep soils to the surface. Earthworms eat plant material in the soil, decaying leaves, and leaf litter, and their own waste provides nourishment for plants and other organisms. Slime, a secretion of earthworms, contains nitrogen, an important plant nutrient. It is estimated that each year earthworms in one acre of land move 18 or more tons of soil.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with worm


In addition to the idioms beginning with worm

  • worm into
  • worm out of
  • worm turns, the

also see:

  • can of worms
  • early bird catches the worm

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.