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To get someone (sometimes with a touch of trickery) to reveal details that likely would not have been volunteered. Usually followed by "out of," as in "worm information out of." Bill was keeping quiet about his break-up, but I knew I could worm information out of him if I tried hard enough. Kira worms information about upcoming tests out of her teachers by complimenting them and straightening up their classrooms.
worm (one's) way in
To get oneself into a place or a situation, with a touch of trickery, artistry, or cunning. I plan on worming my way into the big meeting by schmoozing with my boss for a while.
cheat the worms
To avoid death, especially after having a serious illness. Refers to the worms often found near a decaying body. A: "I heard that Ellen cheated the worms! Is that true? Last I saw her, she was so sick." B: "Oh, yeah! She's doing great now!" I hope I can cheat the worms and make a full recovery—but I feel so sick right now.
can of worms
A situation that, once started, is likely to become problematic or have a negative outcome. Getting involved in the minor border conflict has become a can of worms for the country, with no end to the military engagement in sight. You can try reformatting your computer, but once you open that can of worms, you'll probably be working on it for days.
food for worms
A dead person. You better drive more carefully, unless you want to be food for worms!
have one for the worms
To have an alcoholic drink. The phrase refers to the belief that alcohol kills worms in the stomach. Let's all have one for the worms—I'm buying!
open (up) a can of worms
To initiate, instigate, or reveal a situation that is or is likely to become very complicated or problematic or that will have a negative outcome. I worry that trying to tweak the existing system could open up a can of worms that we're not anticipating. The candidate opened a can of worms when he made those inflammatory comments. Now the entire election has been dominated by the topic.
worm (one's) way out (of something)
To disentangle oneself from some situation, duty, or responsibility, especially through sly, devious, or cunning means. You've wormed your way out of doing the dishes for the last time! Sally always finds some way to worm her way out of any trouble she gets herself into. I told you that the whole company has to be there to do the inventory count—you're not worming your way out this time!
worm into (something or some place)
1. To crawl, wriggle, or squeeze into some tight or confined thing or space. The dog likes to worm into bed with me and my wife at night. I can worm into the pants, but there's no way I'll be able to zip them up.
2. To get oneself into some place or a situation, with a touch of trickery, artistry, or cunning. He wormed into the big meeting by hanging around the boss before it was due to begin. I can't believe we managed to worm into the nightclub without having our IDs checked.
See also: worm
worm (one's) way into (something or some place)
1. To crawl, wriggle, or squeeze into some tight or confined thing or space. The dog likes to worm her way into bed with me and my wife at night. I can worm my way into these pants, but there's no way I'll be able to zip them up.
2. To get oneself into a place or a situation, with a touch of trickery, artistry, or cunning. He wormed his way into the big meeting by hanging around the boss before it was due to begin. I can't believe we managed to worm our way into the nightclub without having our IDs checked.
worm out of (something or some place)
1. To crawl, wriggle, or squeeze out of some tight or confined thing or space. The jeans were so tight that I had to worm out of them. The spy wormed out of the ventilation shaft and lowered himself into the ambassador's office.
2. To disentangle oneself from some situation, duty, or responsibility, especially through sly, devious, or cunning means. Not so fast, you've wormed out of doing the dishes for the last time! Sally always finds some way to worm out of trouble. I told you that the whole company has to be there to do the inventory count—you're not worming out of it again this time!
*can of worms
Fig. a very difficult issue or set of problems; an array of difficulties. (*Typically: be ~; Open ~.) This political scandal is a real can of worms. Let's not open that can of worms!
can of worms
A complex unexpected problem or unsolvable dilemma, as in Tackling the budget cuts is sure to open a can of worms. This expression alludes to a container of bait used for fishing, which when opened reveals an inextricable tangle of worms. [1920s]
a can of worms
COMMON A can of worms is a situation or subject that is very complicated, difficult or unpleasant to deal with or discuss. Now we have uncovered a can of worms in which there has not only been shameful abuse of power, but a failure of moral authority of the worst kind. Note: You can also use the expression to open a can of worms, meaning to start dealing with or discussing something so complicated, difficult or unpleasant that it would be better not to deal with or discuss it at all. Whenever a company connects its network to the Internet, it opens a can of worms in security terms. Many people worry that by uncovering the cause of their unhappiness they might be opening a can of worms that they can't then deal with.
open up a can of wormsdiscover or bring to light a complicated matter likely to prove awkward or embarrassing. informal
1998 New Scientist UN officials readily accept that they have opened a can of worms, and their guidelines will only have an effect, they say, if governments act on them.
food for wormsa dead person.
a can of ˈworms(informal) if you open up a can of worms, you start doing something that will cause a lot of problems and be very difficult: I think if we start asking questions we’ll open up a whole new can of worms. Perhaps we should just accept the situation.
can of worms
n. an intertwined set of problems; an array of difficulties. (Often with open.) When you brought that up, you opened a whole new can of worms.
n. noodles; spaghetti. Let’s have worms tonight.
worms in blood
n. spaghetti in tomato sauce. I’m getting tired of worms in blood every Wednesday.
can of worms
A complex or difficult problem.
can of worms, it's a/like opening a
Introducing a complicated problem or unsolvable dilemma. The metaphor alludes to the live bait of fishermen. In a jar or other container, they form an inextricable tangle, wriggling and entwining themselves with one another. The term is American in origin, dating from the mid-twentieth century.
food for worms
Dead and buried. This expression dates back to the thirteenth century, or perhaps even earlier. “Ne schalt tu beon wurmes fode?” wrote the unknown author of the Middle English Ancren Riwle about 1220. Shakespeare picked it up in Henry IV, Part 1 (5.4), when the mortally wounded Hotspur says of himself, “No, Percy, thou art dust, and food for—” and dies, so Prince Henry completes it, “For worms, brave Percy.”