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First recorded late 17th c.; uncertain origin. Perhaps imitative or related to worm (in the sense of writhing movement) or swarm.



squirm (third-person singular simple present squirms, present participle squirming, simple past and past participle squirmed)

  1. To twist one's body with snakelike motions.
    The prisoner managed to squirm out of the straitjacket.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot Chapter IV
      [] around us there had sprung up a perfect bedlam of screams and hisses and a seething caldron of hideous reptiles, devoid of fear and filled only with hunger and with rage. They clambered, squirmed and wriggled to the deck, forcing us steadily backward, though we emptied our pistols into them.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room Chapter 1
      "Throw it away, dear, do," she said, as they got into the road; but Jacob squirmed away from her []
    • 2011 February 5, Michael Kevin Darling, “Tottenham 2 - 1 Bolton”, in BBC[1]:
      The Dutchman then missed a retaken second spot-kick, before the Trotters hit back when Daniel Sturridge's shot squirmed under Heurelho Gomes.
    Synonyms: writhe, wriggle
  2. To twist in discomfort, especially from shame or embarrassment.
    I recounted the embarrassing story in detail just to watch him squirm.
    Synonym: fidget
  3. To evade a question, an interviewer etc. (Can we add an example for this sense?)

Derived terms[edit]



squirm (plural squirms)

  1. A twisting, snakelike movement of the body.