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Alternative forms[edit]


brain +‎ worm


brainworm (plural brainworms)

  1. A neurotropic nematode parasite (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis).
    • 1990, Maine Fish and Wildlife, volumes 32-33, page 10:
      Only rarely do we find a brainworm-infected moose that has larvae in its feces.
  2. (science fiction) Any parasitic, worm-like species that inhabits the brain of another organism, typically altering its behaviour or giving it special abilities.
    • 2012, David Barr Kirtley, “The Ontological Factor”, in John Joseph Adams, editor, Other Worlds Than These, unnumbered page:
      She caught my expression, and added quickly, “Oh, but not bad brain worms. Good brain worms. They know most of the languages that are spoken across the worlds, and pretty soon you will too.”
    • 2012, Mark Chadbourn, Jack of Ravens, unnumbered page:
      "Yes. And I'm going to get back to her. Nothing's going to stand in the way of that. Not two thousand years...not some overambitious species that think they're gods...not monsters or brain-worms or secret assassins."
    • 2021, Jason Fry, Star Wars The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia[1], page 111:
      This allows brain worms to animate their dead bodies, creating shambling warriors that fight for their queens.
  3. (figurative, informal) A song or melody that keeps playing inside of one's mind. [since 2008]
    Synonym: earworm
    • 2008 July 1, Mike Redmond, “Astley Brainworm”, in Current in Carmel, page 28:
      Which points out the difference between this song and other brainworms.
    • 2009 September 5, Bill & Rich Sones, “Can't get rid of that tune? Maybe it's a brainworm”, in Woolwich Observer, page 30:
      Although brainworms are no doubt ancient, the term has come into common use only in the last few decades, probably because suddenly music is ubiquitous, []
    • 2016, Lawrence Kramer, “Caliban's Ear: A Short History of Ambient Music”, in Anahid Kassabian, Elena Boschi, Marta García Quiñones, editors, Ubiquitous Musics: The Everyday Sounds That We Don't Always Notice[2], page 15:
      The hallucinations in question are exaggerated forms of 'brainworms' – music stuck in the head.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:brainworm.
  4. (figurative, slang, sometimes derogatory) A persistent delusion or obsession; a deeply-ingrained or unquestioned idea. [2010s]
    • 2016 October 20, driftglass [username], “Fundraiser Day Five: Joe Scarborough and Bill Kristol -- Cannibals Fighting Over The Place Settings”, in driftglass [personal website][3]:
      Of all the toxic brainworms Ronald Reagan passed down to his acolytes and imitators, almost none has proven more ineradicable and ruinous than his pathologically dissociative behavior when confronted with any information that threatened to impede his world-view.
    • 2019 February 22, Sean Burke, “Ditch liberalism: Let's give socialism a chance”, in The Student Life, Claremont College, page 7:
      Venezuela's market-based economy looks nothing like the centrally-planned Maoist regime that Sean Hannity's brainworms tell him it is.
    • 2020, Jake Dean, "mum + dad words", Kiddo, December 2020 - February 2021, page 31:
      [] but I've already found my mood has improved and the time I've spent having fun with my kid, reading, keeping fit, etc. has increased markedly as my screen time (and my brain worms) have dwindled.
    • 2021, Stephanie Shih, quoted in "An Interview with Stephanie Shih", Form (Duke University), Volume 25 (2021), page 117:
      I think institutional success would be nice because I have the capitalist brain worms that we all have.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:brainworm.