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Although more usually used to describe the common earthworm, the English language word "worm" derives from Old Norse orm and Anglo-Saxon 'wyrm, meaning "serpent" or "dragon". The synonymous usage of worm and dragon in English lessened during the following centuries. Samuel Johnson's dictionary drew a distinction between worms and dragons (while retaining the word serpent as a definition of worm) and the last synonymous usage of worm and dragon as noted in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to the 17th century.
Worms have played major roles in world mythology and its associated literatures. The word was often used to describe creatures now classified as caterpillars, millipedes, snakes, maggots, and lizards, along with dragons. Its symbolic meaning is divided between death and renewal.
Nidhogg (the 'Dread Biter') and Midgard's Worm were two of the most famous "Worms" in Viking mythology. At the 'still point of the turning world' the Vikings believed the ash tree Yggdrasil bore the weight of the universe. One of its three roots stretched over the underworld Niflheim where the dragon Nidhogg gnawed at it in an attempt to destroy creation – hence its name 'The Dread Biter'. This legend was later used by fantasy writer Terry Pratchett.
Midgard's Worm or Jorungard's Worm lay in the sea with its tail in its mouth, encircling the lands of the world and creating the oceans. If the Worm's tail was ever removed from its mouth disaster would befall the earth and in legend Midgard's Worm met its end at Ragnarok when it dies fighting, and killing, the thunder god Thor. This story forms the basis of a novel, "The Worm of the World's End", by Stephen R Donaldson. The Midgard Worm is also known as the World Serpent.
Several places in Great Britain, once occupied by Viking raiders, owe their names to the supposed resemblance they bore to this fictional beast. Worm's Head on the Gower Peninsula in Wales was thought to resemble a sleeping dragon . There are many legends in the north east of England relating to gigantic 'worms' which terrorised the local area before being slain by a hero. The Lambton Worm, Sockburn Worm and Worm of Linton are among the best known of these. The North East was raided and occupied by the Vikings for centuries during the Dark Ages and these legends may refer to heroes fighting the invaders, personified as monsterous Viking worm dragons. The Durham historian Hutchinson believed the legend of the Sockburn worm, for example, referred to a Viking raider who plundered the Tees valley before being repulsed. The notion of the Sockburn worm itself was used by Lewis Carroll as the basis of his nonsense rhyme `Jabberwocky'.
Worms continue to play mixed roles in modern cultures. The current usage of worm as a type of malicious Internet software is derived from a 1975 science fiction novel, Shockwave Rider. More positive interpretations, based on the concept of the friendly 'bookworm' or mutated forms of the common earthworm, are found in many recent books, especially those written for children.
- The Irish mythological hero Cúchulainn was said to have been born as a result of his mother's ingestion of a worm.
- The Lambton Worm, of 15th-century English legend, also made into an opera by Robert Sherlaw Johnson
- The Worm of Sockburn, of 14th-century English legend
- The Worm of Linton, of 12th-century Scottish legend
- The Laidley Worm of Bamburgh
- Great Orms of fresh and salt water in early Gaelic and Brythonic legends
- The Jörmungandr or Midgard Serpent of Norse Mythology
- The Mongolian Death Worm, a cryptozoological creature reported to exist in the Gobi Desert.
- An antagonist in Beowulf is alternately described as a worm or as a dragon.
- "The Conqueror Worm", an 1845 poem by Edgar Allan Poe, concludes with the lines "The play is the tragedy, 'Man',/ and its hero the Conquerer Worm."
- Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll is a 'nonsense' poem telling the tale of a giant worm like monster.
- Arthur Conan Doyle, writing of an unrecorded case taken on by Sherlock Holmes, mentions a "remarkable worm said to be unknown to science."
- The Lair of the White Worm is a 1911 novel by Bram Stoker, made into a 1988 film by director Ken Russell.
- Fafnir, a beast slain during the course of the Völsungasaga, is a worm in William Morris's rendition.
- The Worm Ouroboros, a 1922 fantasy novel by Eric Rücker Eddison, invokes an ancient myth of a legless creature that eats its own tail.
- The Coming of the White Worm is a 1941 short story by Clark Ashton Smith.
- J.R.R. Tolkien refers to his creation Glaurung as 'The Great Worm'. This term was adopted by hackers to describe the Morris Worm.
- In the House of the Worm is a 1976 short story by George R. R. Martin.
- The Conqueror Worms is a 2006 novel by Brian Keene.
- The .303 Bookworm in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.
- The Worm of the World's End, whose body underlies the lands and ocean and whose thrashings will destroy the world when it awakes, in The One Tree, the second book of the second trilogy of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever fantasy series written by Stephen R. Donaldson.
- Sandworms play a major role in the science fiction novel Dune and in its film and TV adaptations (Dune universe).
- John Brunner's 1975 Shockwave Rider describes computer 'tapeworms' as capable of reproducing themselves as long as networked computers enable their survival.
- Flobberworms are dull wormlike magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe.
- Lowly Worm is a fictional character that makes frequent appearances in Richard Scarry's children's books.
- Gary Larson narrates the adventures of a nuclear worm family in his 1998 There's a Hair in My Dirt: A Worm's Story.
- Diary of a Worm (2003), written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss, is a journalistic account of a worm's daily life.
Television, music and filmEdit
- The Graboids in the Tremors films and television series.
- Jeff, the giant subway worm in the film Men in Black II
- The ghost-eating sandworms in the film Beetlejuice
- A family of worms in Jim Davis' comic strip US Acres
- Phish performed a version of the song "Swingtown" in Amsterdam, about giant worms in the city's sewers, known as "Wormtown".
- Inchworm, a song first recorded by Danny Kaye and since covered by several other artists, asks an inchworm to appreciate the beauty of marigolds rather than measuring their length.
- The giant worm-demon in "Beneath You", a 7th season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- The giant flukeworm/human hybrid in "The Host", a 2nd season episode of The X-Files.
- "Just a worm" living in the walls of the outer Labyrinth in the Jim Henson movie of the same name.
- Regulan bloodworms are a species in the Star Trek universe.
- In the 2005 film King Kong, a giant bloodworm-like predator called the carnictus lives in the rents and chasms of Skull Island. They grow to be 7–13 feet long, and they kill a character named Lumpy in the film.
- In the AVP series, Alien Chestbursters are Xenomorph larvae that incubate within a human host and rip out of the chest cavity when partially mature.
- The Giant flesh-eating worms from Pre-cambrian rimes in Primeval, this Worms life in sulphur gases which come from the anomaly, oxygen is poison for the Worms.
- The titular character in the They Might Be Giants song Dr. Worm, a worm that can play the drums.
- In the Worms Series, Boggy B, Spadge, and Clagnut are named characters who appear in title songs and the like.
- In Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar the protagonist turns into an entity called "The Worm" before turning into the Antichrist.
- Alaskan Bull Worm from the television show SpongeBob SquarePants.
- The Bookworm, supporting character in Warner Brothers' Sniffles cartoons
- The Bookworm, a character Spider-Man fought in an episode of The 1970s PBS TV series The Electric Company
- Bookworm (Tiny Toon Adventures), supporting character on the hit cartoon show Tiny Toon Adventures
- The Bookworm character of various children's reading programs.
- Boreworms an (unseen) animal used as an implement of torture in the movie Flash Gordon.
- Doctor Worm, from the They Might Be Giants song featured on Nickelodeon's Kablam
- Evil Jim, Earthworm Jim's evil twin from the Earthworm Jim TV series.
- Glo Worm, plushie worms toys
- The Slurm Queen from Futurama, the only source of the Slurm brand of soda.
- Mr. Mind, the super-intelligent arch-nemesis of DC's Captain Marvel character
- Slimey, pet of Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch
- Lazy Jay Ranch's worms in Rocky and Bullwinkle
- The documentary The Future Is Wild featured three species of worms: garden worms, slickribbons and gloomworms.
- The "Worm That Doth Corrupt" from Jerusalem's Lot by Stephen King.
- Worm, being Pink's inner judge in Pink Floyd: The Wall
Role-playing games Edit
Video games Edit
- Annelids, from System Shock 2.
- Boreworms, from Splatterhouse.
- Burrow Beast, a man-eating worm weapon from Destroy All Humans! 2
- Earthworm Jim, the protagonist of the video game series with the same name.
- Earthworm Kim, the female version of Jim from Earthworm Jim 3D.
- Fat Worm, from Fat Worm Blows a Sparky
- Long and purple worms, from NetHack.
- Mindworms, from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.
- Moldorm, from The Legend of Zelda and its sequels.
- Multiworms and hyperworms, from X-COM: Apocalypse.
- The Pit Worm and Geneworm from Half-Life: Opposing Force.
- Sandworms, from the Dune computer and video games.
- Sandworms, from the Diablo I & II computer and video games.
- Sandworms, from the Final Fantasy series.
- Tapeworm Slim, a new character planned to be in the cancelled Earthworm Jim PSP.
- The King of Worms, a fictional character from the games Daggerfall and Oblivion in The Elder Scrolls series.
- Burrowers and Dune Worms (possibelly Young Burrowers) from WarCraft series.
- The worms from the Worms series.
- The various types of Worms in Guildwars.
- Zerg larvae and Cerebrates from StarCraft.
- Caterpie, Weedle and Wurmple from Pokémon.
- Rockworms and the Riftworm from Gears of War 2.
- Molgera, a boss from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Brian Bates (2003), The real Middle-Earth: exploring the magic and mystery of the Middle Ages, J.R.R. Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=BXRTMwCKDAcC&pg=PA86
- ↑ Sayre N. Greenfield (1998). The ends of allegory. University of Delaware Press. p. 75. ISBN 9780874136708. http://books.google.com/books?id=DZ77QVDOacAC&pg=PA75&dq=worm+dragon+oed&hl=en&ei=tfgXTKf7KJKmnQehqOWlCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=worm%20dragon%20oed&f=false.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Hope B. Werness (2004). The Continuum encyclopedia of animal symbolism in art. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 439. ISBN 9780826415257. http://books.google.com/books?id=fr2rANLrPmoC&pg=PA439&dq=worms+symbol+death&hl=en&ei=3S0aTOGaKdXdnAedyvSVCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=worms%20symbol%20death&f=false.
- ↑ Jose Nazario (2004). Defense and detection strategies against Internet worms. Artech House. p. 38. ISBN 9781580535373. http://books.google.com/books?id=swfZIwWZepYC&pg=PA38&dq=worms+fiction&hl=en&ei=VOQXTMuxIsuTnQeTgN2lCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAjge#v=onepage&q=worms%20fiction&f=false.
- ↑ Charles William Kennedy (1978). Beowulf: the oldest English epic. Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 9780195024357. http://books.google.com/books?id=JkTfoYAELVYC&pg=PA74&dq=worm+beowulf&hl=en&ei=xvIXTOuFBY6DnQf2s6muCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCEQ6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=worm%20beowulf&f=false.
- ↑ Carlson, Eric (1996). A companion to Poe studies. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 92. ISBN 9780313265068.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Trent Walters (2005), "Snakes and Worms", The Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy, 2, p. 729, ISBN 9780313329500, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3JXnz9x9sO4C&pg=PA729
- ↑ William Morris (1911). The collected works of William Morris, Volume 7. Longmans, Green and company. p. 328. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZQNHAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA328&lpg=PA328&dq=fafnir+worm+william+morris&source=bl&ots=ODIZj0hRK5&sig=hAIz0KFhQW39b6THvYbeVWtiRtY&hl=en&ei=hMwYTJfmD8f7nAfqvMC7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Drout, Michael D. C. (2007). J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia: scholarship and critical assessment. CRC Press. p. 636. ISBN 9780415969420. http://books.google.com/books?id=B0loOBA3ejIC&pg=PA636&lpg=PA636&dq=great+worm+tolkien+internet&source=bl&ots=hgIFcC6h1e&sig=5wLR0oqMobTBP3l7oYN4BkHJdTw&hl=en&ei=u-wYTIyIHoG-nAeZyfy2Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CBgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=great%20worm%20tolkien%20internet&f=false.
- ↑ Rick Lehtinen, Deborah Russell, G. T. Gangemi (2006). Computer security basics. O'Reilly. p. 85. ISBN 9780596006693. http://books.google.com/books?id=fqCFfuAJ4uEC&pg=PA85&dq=worm++fiction+shockwave+rider&hl=en&ei=4-cXTPW2GISlnQf5s52iCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=worm%20%20fiction%20shockwave%20rider&f=false.
- ↑ Angier, Natalie. "AFICIONADO OF SCIENCE: Gary Larson; An Amateur of Biology Returns to His Easel". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/28/science/aficionado-of-science-gary-larson-an-amateur-of-biology-returns-to-his-easel.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
- ↑ Dilys Evans (2008). Show & tell: exploring the fine art of children's book illustration. Chronicle Books. p. 86. ISBN 9780811849715. http://books.google.com/books?id=DS207n6I0cgC&pg=PA86&dq=Harry+Bliss+worm&hl=en&ei=vHMZTM3uH4SHnQeSoIHGCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDgQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Marc Okrand (1992). The Klingon dictionary: English-Klingon, Klingon-English, Volume 1992, Part 2. Simon and Schuster. p. 149. ISBN 9780671745592. http://books.google.com/books?id=dqOwxsg6XnwC&pg=PA149&dq=Regulan+bloodworm&hl=en&ei=ih4aTL6gIcKDnQejxoSkCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=Regulan%20bloodworm&f=false.
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