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ear +‎ worm, as a calque of German Ohrwurm (earworm).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɪə(ɹ).wɜː(ɹ)m/


earworm (plural earworms)

  1. A tune that is stuck in one's head, especially as unwanted or repetitive.
    • 2005, Kim Cooper, David Smay, editor, Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed[1], Routledge, ISBN 9780415969987, Klymaxx - Meeting in the Ladies Room, page 132:
      The chorus spawned an earworm so potent that women still mutter it as they exit for a bathroom break twenty years later.
    • 2005, Brain Stableford, Kiss the Goat[2], Wildside Press, ISBN 9780809544851, Chapter Two, pages 15-16:
      “Yeah, well,” he said, weakly. “Sometimes tunes do that.” [] ¶ “I don't mean that I heard it once before and caught an earworm.”
    • 2009, Steve Goodman, “1971: The Earworm”, in Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear[3], MIT Press, ISBN 9780262013475, page 147:
      A commonly cited species within memetics, the earworm is the catchy tune that you cannot get out of your head, the vocal refrain, the infectious rhythm or the addictive riff