Worms


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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.
See also: can, of, Worms

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.
See also: cheat, Worms

food for worms

A dead person. You better drive more carefully, unless you want to be food for worms!
See also: 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!
See also: for, have, one, Worms

like opening (up) a can of worms

Likely to have complicated, wide-reaching, or unforeseeable results or side effects, especially problematic or negative ones. I worry that trying to alter the existing network setup could be like opening up a can of worms that we're not anticipating. I want to address the issue with the boss, but it's always like opening a can of worms bringing up stuff like that with him.
See also: can, like, of, opening, Worms

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.
See also: can, of, open, Worms

worm

A contemptible person. He's such a little worm, agreeing with whatever the boss says if he thinks it will get him ahead. My application got held up by some worm with delusions of grandeur, who insisted on questioning every single detail I submitted.

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.
See also: way, 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 some desirable place or a situation in a sly, tricky, or cunning manner. 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.
See also: way, worm

worm (one's) way out (of something)

1. To crawl, wriggle, or squeeze out of some tight or confined thing or space. The dog disappeared beneath the porch, then wormed her way out of it again with a dead rat in her mouth. I need to lose some weight. I managed to get my old jeans on, but it took me nearly 10 minutes to worm my way out again!
2. 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!
See also: out, way, worm

worm (something) out of (one)

To obtain information from one, usually by nefarious or deceptive means. Oh, she's good—she'll worm a confession out of you before you even know what’s happening. See if you can worm the password out of Bill—he seems like an easy target.
See also: of, out, worm

worm information

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.
See also: information, worm

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 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!
See also: of, out, worm

worms in blood

slang Spaghetti in tomato-based sauce, especially marinara or Bolognese. A: "What's your favorite food to eat, Billy?" B: "Worms in blood!" C: "He means spaghetti."
See also: blood, Worms
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*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!
See also: can, of, Worms

worm

 (one's way) in (to something)
1. Fig. to wiggle into something or some place. (Fig. on the image of a worm working its way into a very small space.) The little cat wormed her way into the box and got stuck. The cat wormed into the opening.
2. . Fig. to manipulate one's way into participation in something. She tried to worm her way into the play, but the director refused. You can't have a part, so don't try to worm in.

worm

 (one's way) out (of something)
1. Fig. to wiggle out of something or some place. (Fig. on the image of a worm working its way out of a very small space.) Somehow she managed to worm her way out of the handcuffs. Frank wormed out of the opening. He struggled and struggled and wormed out.
2. . Fig. to manipulate oneself out of a job or responsibility. Don't try to worm yourself out of this affair. It is your fault! You can't worm out of this.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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]
See also: can, of, Worms
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: can, of, Worms
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

open up a can of worms

discover 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.
See also: can, of, open, up, Worms

food for worms

a dead person.
See also: food, for, Worms
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.
See also: can, of, Worms
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.
See also: can, of, Worms

worm

n. a repellent person, usually a male. Gad, you are a worm, Tom.

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.
See also: blood, Worms
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

can of worms

A complex or difficult problem.
See also: can, of, Worms
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: can, like, of, opening

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.”
See also: food, for, Worms
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Unless the bin is out of balance, your worms and bin should smell like earthy compost.
Scientists were baffled by a 505-million-year-old microscopic worm with a body that comprised parts belonging to different worm families, but it seems they may have finally found where this creature belongs on the tree of life.
The pit should be protected from direct sunlight for survival of the red worms.
Learn how to recycle kitchen food scraps into nutrient-packed worm compost.
Guinea-worm disease, or dracunculiasis, is a crippling parasitic infection caused by a long, thread-like worm.
HANNAH STEPHENSON looks at ways to help worms in your garden: | GO NATURAL | REPLACE chemical fertilisers with manures, compost and natural fertilisers such as seaweed.
The "stick-worm" looks exactly like its name: a short, usually 6-inch, straight worm which tapers at both ends.
Intestinal worms can have devastating effects on horses such as weight loss, diarrhoea, and colic with some cases being fatal.
The Department of Agriculture website said army worms produce more eggs during a long dry spell after a rainfall.
Using a virtual slide microscope, visitors can enlarge images of various worms from the museum's collections or draw specimens on our tracing table.
What better way to learn about earthworms than by observing them at work in your very own worm farm?
The study of worm propagation and control mechanism has always been one of the hot research topics, and the research on how benign worms control the propagation of malicious worms is the hottest topic.
"You need a lot of worms to keep your garden healthy," says Jay.
Fortunately, she has an abundance of vegetable peels, fruit rinds, egg shells, coffee grounds and more to feed the worms' voracious appetite.
Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- Tiny 'bone-devouring worms', known to both eat and inhabit dead whale skeletons and other bones on the sea floor, have a unique ability to release bone-melting acid.