American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. 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.
- n. Any of various crawling insect larvae, such as a grub or a caterpillar, having a soft elongated body.
- n. Any of various unrelated animals, such as the shipworm or the slowworm, resembling a worm in habit or appearance.
- n. Something, such as the thread of a screw or the spiral condenser in a still, that resembles a worm in form or appearance.
- n. The spirally threaded shaft of a worm gear.
- n. An insidiously tormenting or devouring force: "felt the black worm of treachery growing in his heart” ( Mario Puzo).
- n. A person regarded as pitiable or contemptible.
- n. Pathology Infestation of the intestines or other parts of the body with worms or wormlike parasites; helminthiasis.
- n. Computer Science A malicious program that replicates itself until it fills all of the storage space on a drive or network.
- v. To make (one's way) with or as if with the sinuous crawling motion of a worm.
- v. To work (one's way or oneself) subtly or gradually; insinuate: She wormed her way into his confidence.
- v. To elicit by artful or devious means. Usually used with out of: wormed a confession out of the suspect.
- v. To cure of intestinal worms.
- v. Nautical To wrap yarn or twine spirally around (rope).
- v. To move in a manner suggestive of a worm.
- v. To make one's way by artful or devious means: He can't worm out of this situation.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A conical winding-drum having a spiral groove in which the winding rope or chain lies as it is wound upon the drum, the object being to wind the rope at first over the smaller diameter of the cone, and to increase the leverage as the winding proceeds. A common example is the brake-chain worm of a railroad car at the lower end of a brake-shaft.
- n. The driving element in screw-gearing or worm-gearing; the helix whose section is that of a wheel-tooth described upon a cylinder as a base which bears upon the tooth of the worm-wheel to cause the latter to revolve.
- n. In popular language, any small creeping creature whose body consists of a number of movable joints or rings, and whose limbs are very short or entirely wanting; any vermiform animal.
- n. Any annelid, as the earthworm, lobworm or lugworm, leech, etc. See the distinctive names.
- n. Any helminth, whether parasitic or not, as a flat-worm, brain-worm, fluke-worm, roundworm, tapeworm, pinworm, hairworm, threadworm, spoonworm, longworm, whirl-worm, guinea-worm, etc. See such words, and vinegar-eel.
- n. One of several long slender vermiform echinoderms, as some holothurians and related forms. See Vermiformia, and cuts under Synapta and trepang.
- n. Some small or slender acarine or mite, or its larva, as the worm found in sebaceous follicles. See comedo and Demodex.
- n. A myriapod; a contiped or milleped; a gally-worm.
- n. The larva, grub, maggot, or caterpillar of many true hexapod insects: as, bag-worm; boll-worm; book-worm; wire-worm; sod-worm; snake-worm; joint-worm; silkworms. See the compounded and otherwise qualified names.
- n. The adult of some true insects whose body is long and flexible, as a glow-worm.
- n. One of several long slender crustaceans with short legs or none, which attach to or burrow in other animals, bore into wood, etc., as some kinds of fish-lice, certain isopods (as the gribble), certain amphipods (as the wood-shrimp), etc.
- n. One of some vermiform mollusks, as a teredo or shipworm, or a wormshell. See cuts under shipworm and Vermetus.
- n. A small lizard with rudimentary legs, or none, as a blindworm or slow-worm.
- n. A serpent; a snake; a dragon. For a modern instance in composition, see worm-snake, 1.
- n. Technically, in zoology, any member of the Linnean class Vermes, or of the modern phylum or subkingdom of the same name; any turbellarian, planarian, nemertean, platyhelminth, nemathelminth, trematoid, cestoid, nematoid, chætognath, gephyrean, annelid, etc. By some authorities the rotifers and polyzoans are brought under this head. See
Vermes, and the various words noted in 1 , , above.
- n. A person or human being likened to a worm as an object of scorn, disgust, contempt, pity, and the like: as, man is but a worm of the dust.
- n. Figuratively, of inanimate objects, something that slowly, silently, or stealthily eats, makes, or works its way, to the pain, injury, or destruction of the object affected: used emblematically or symbolically. Corruption, decay, or dissolution; death itself.
- n. An uneasy conscience; the gnawing or torment of conscience; remorse.
- n. In anatomy, some vermiform part or process of an animal's body. The vermis of the cerebellum. See
- n. Anything thought to resemble a worm in appearance, or in having a spiral or curved movement. The spiral part of a corkscrew or of a woodscrew. Also
- n. plural Any disease or disorder arising from the presence of parasitic worms in the intestines or other tissues; helminthiasis.
- n. A worm parasitic in the intestine of another animal, as a tapeworm, threadworm, pinworm, etc.
- To move like a worm; go or advance as a worm; crawl or creep sinuously; wriggle; writhe; squirm: as, to worm along.
- To work or act slowly, stealthily, or secretly.
- To effect by slow, stealthy, or insidious means: as, to worm one's way along. In this sense also, reflexively, of slow, insidious, or insinuating progress or action: as, he wormed himself into favor.
- To extract, remove, expel, or take away by underhand means persistently continued: generally with out or from.
- To subject to a stealthy process of ferreting out one's secrets or private affairs; play the spy upon.
- To free from worms.
- To remove the charge, etc., from, as a gun, by means of a worm. See worm, n., 6 .
- To remove the worm or lytta from the tongue of, as of a dog: supposed to be a precaution against madness.
- To remove the beard of (an oyster or mussel).
- To give a spiral form to; put a thread on.
- Nautical, to wind rope-yarns, spun yarn, or similar material spirally round (a rope) so as to fill the spaces between the strands and render the surface smooth for parceling and serving. See cuts under parceling and serving-mallet.
- n. A generally tubular invertebrate of the annelid phylum.
- n. A contemptible or devious being.
- n. computing A self-replicating program that propagates through a network.
- n. cricket A graphical representation of the total runs scored in an innings.
- n. Anything helical, especially the thread of a screw.
- n. archaic A dragon or mythological serpent.
- n. An internal tormentor; something that gnaws or afflicts one's mind with remorse.
- v. transitive To make (one's way) with a crawling motion.
- v. intransitive, figuratively To work one's way by artful or devious means.
- v. transitive, figuratively To work (one's way or oneself) (into) gradually or slowly; to insinuate.
- v. To effect, remove, drive, draw, or the like, by slow and secret means; often followed by out.
- v. transitive, figuratively To obtain information from someone through artful or devious means (usually used with out of)
- v. transitive, nautical To fill in the contlines of a rope before parcelling and serving.
- v. transitive To deworm an animal.
- v. intransitive To move with one's body dragging the ground.
- v. transitive To cut the worm, or lytta, from under the tongue of (a dog, etc.) for the purpose of checking a disposition to gnaw, and formerly supposed to guard against canine madness.
- v. transitive To clean by means of a worm; to draw a wad or cartridge from, as a firearm.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. Archaic A creeping or a crawling animal of any kind or size, as a serpent, caterpillar, snail, or the like.
- n. (Zoöl.) Any small creeping animal or reptile, either entirely without feet, or with very short ones, including a great variety of animals
- n. Any helminth; an entozoön.
- n. Any annelid.
- n. An insect larva.
- n. Same as Vermes.
- n. An internal tormentor; something that gnaws or afflicts one's mind with remorse.
- n. A being debased and despised.
- n. Anything spiral, vermiculated, or resembling a worm.
- n. The thread of a screw.
- n. A spiral instrument or screw, often like a double corkscrew, used for drawing balls from firearms.
- n. (Anat.) A certain muscular band in the tongue of some animals, as the dog; the lytta. See Lytta.
- n. The condensing tube of a still, often curved and wound to economize space. See
- n. (Mach.) A short revolving screw, the threads of which drive, or are driven by, a worm wheel by gearing into its teeth or cogs. See
Illust.of Worm gearing, below.
- v. To work slowly, gradually, and secretly.
- v. To effect, remove, drive, draw, or the like, by slow and secret means; -- often followed by
- v. To clean by means of a worm; to draw a wad or cartridge from, as a firearm. See Worm, n. 5 (b).
- v. To cut the worm, or lytta, from under the tongue of, as a dog, for the purpose of checking a disposition to gnaw. The operation was formerly supposed to guard against canine madness.
- v. (Naut.) To wind rope, yarn, or other material, spirally round, between the strands of, as a cable; to wind with spun yarn, as a small rope.
- n. screw thread on a gear with the teeth of a worm wheel or rack
- v. to move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling)
- n. a person who has a nasty or unethical character undeserving of respect
- n. a software program capable of reproducing itself that can spread from one computer to the next over a network
- n. any of numerous relatively small elongated soft-bodied animals especially of the phyla Annelida and Chaetognatha and Nematoda and Nemertea and Platyhelminthes; also many insect larvae
- From Middle English worm, werm, wurm, wirm, from Old English wyrm ‘snake, worm’, from Proto-Germanic *wurmiz (compare Dutch worm, West Frisian wjirm, German Wurm, Danish orm), from Proto-Indo-European *wr̥mis (compare Latin vermis '‘worm’, Lithuanian var̃mas ‘insect, midge’, Albanian rrime ‘rainworm’, Ancient Greek ῥόμος (rhómos) ‘woodworm’), possibly from *wer- ‘to turn’. First computer usage by John Brunner in his 1975 book The Shockwave Rider. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old English wurm, variant of wyrm. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“To add to the confusion, Mondino dei Luzzi (1306) described the choroid plexus in the lateral ventricles as a worm which can open and close the passage between the anterior and middle ventricles, with the result that, in the late Middle Ages, the term ˜worm™ could refer to no less than three different parts of the brain: the vermis of the cerebellum, the pineal body and the choroid plexus”
“This is a worm "_sui generis_," the mode of its propagation being entirely unknown; and from its being the only living creature (man excepted) that will devour this plant, [B] it is called "_tobacco worm_.”
“_Man that is a worm, and the son of man, which is a worm_. ”
“IV. iii.182 (361,8) eyeless venom'd worm] The serpent, which we, from the smallness of his eyes, call the _blind worm_, and the Latins,”
“Most experts say the worm is a sophisticated piece of coding.”
“And since it isn't clear how the worm is acquired or what it can do, should we simply shut down our nuclear power plants until we understand this problem better?”
“Richard Russo roots for the family, but he knows the worm is there.”
“But, you know, the worm is actually only in a tiny part of the apple.”
“Secondly, today the worm is a valuable marketing tool.”
“Check Your Computer -- The Conflicker worm is supposed to attack today.”
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