- Zoology. any of numerous long, slender, soft-bodied, legless, bilaterally symmetrical invertebrates, including the flatworms, roundworms, acanthocephalans, nemerteans, gordiaceans, and annelids.
- (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.
- something resembling or suggesting a worm in appearance, movement, etc.
- Informal. a groveling, abject, or contemptible person.
- the spiral pipe in which the vapor is condensed in a still.
- (not in technical use) screw thread(def 1).
- screw conveyor.
- Also called worm screw. a rotating cylinder or shaft, cut with one or more helical threads, that engages with and drives a worm wheel.
- something that penetrates, injures, or consumes slowly or insidiously, like a gnawing worm.
- 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.
- (used with a plural verb) Metallurgy. irregularities visible on the surfaces of some metals subject to plastic deformation.
- the lytta of a dog or other carnivorous animal.
- 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.
- to move or act like a worm; creep, crawl, or advance slowly or stealthily.
- to achieve something by insidious procedure (usually followed by into): to worm into another's favor.
- Metallurgy. craze(def 8a).
- to cause to move or advance in a devious or stealthy manner: The thief wormed his hand into my coat pocket.
- to get by persistent, insidious efforts (usually followed by out or from): to worm a secret out of a person.
- to insinuate (oneself or one's way) into another's favor, confidence, etc.: to worm his way into the king's favor.
- to free from worms: He wormed the puppies.
- 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
- any of various invertebrates, esp the annelids (earthworms, etc), nematodes (roundworms), and flatworms, having a slender elongated bodyRelated adjective: vermicular
- any of various insect larvae having an elongated body, such as the silkworm and wireworm
- any of various unrelated animals that resemble annelids, nematodes, etc, such as the glow-worm and shipworm
- a gnawing or insinuating force or agent that torments or slowly eats away
- a wretched or spineless person
- anything that resembles a worm in appearance or movement
- 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
- a spiral pipe cooled by air or flowing water, used as a condenser in a still
- a nontechnical name for lytta
- anatomy any wormlike organ, structure, or part, such as the middle lobe of the cerebellum (vermis cerebelli)Technical name: vermis
- computing a program that duplicates itself many times in a network and prevents its destruction. It often carries a logic bomb or virus
- to move, act, or cause to move or act with the slow sinuous movement of a worm
- (foll by in, into, out of, etc) to make (one's way) slowly and stealthily; insinuate (oneself)
- (tr; often foll by out of or from) to extract (information, a secret, etc) from by persistent questioning
- (tr) to free from or purge of worms
- (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
- write once read many times: an optical disk that enables users to store data but not change it
Word Origin and History for worm into
Old English wurm, variant of wyrm "serpent, dragon," also in later Old English "earthworm," from Proto-Germanic *wurmiz (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German, German wurm, Old Frisian and Dutch worm, Old Norse ormr, Gothic waurms "serpent, worm"), from PIE *wrmi-/*wrmo- "worm" (cf. Greek rhomos, Latin vermis "worm," Old Russian vermie "insects," Lithuanian varmas "insect, gnat"), possibly from root *wer- (3) "turn" (see versus).
The ancient category of these was much more extensive than the modern, scientific, one and included serpents, scorpions, maggots, and the supposed causes of certain diseases. For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. As an insult meaning "abject, miserable person" it dates from Old English.
"to move like a worm," c.1600, from worm (n.). In figurative senses attested from 1620s, suggesting patient, sinuous progress. Related: Wormed; worming.
- Any of various invertebrates, as those of the phyla Annelida, Nematoda, Nemertea, or Platyhelminthes, having a long, flexible, rounded or flattened body, often without obvious appendages.
- Any of various crawling insect larvae, such as a grub or caterpillar, having a soft, elongated body.
- Any of various unrelated animals, such as the shipworm or the slowworm, resembling a worm in habit or appearance.
- worms Infestation of the intestines or other parts of the body with worms or wormlike parasites; helminthiasis.
- 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.
- 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.
Idioms and Phrases with worm into
Insinuate oneself subtly or gradually, as in He tried to worm into her confidence. This idiom alludes to the sinuous path of a worm. [Early 1600s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with worm
- worm into
- worm out of
- worm turns, the
- can of worms
- early bird catches the worm