WORDS TO THE WISEBMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6994.1572 (Published 17 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1572
- Grant Hutchison
Turning the worm
The vermiform appendix is shaped like a worm, the adjective being derived from the Latin vermis, a word that is also used to describe the long, thin, middle lobe of the cerebellum. Vermis crops up in odd places. In Middle English the idea of a worm encompassed all small things that crept, crawled, or wriggled; reptiles and insects were worms, too. Since small, wriggling creatures are often unpleasant to associate with, the word began to be used for any creature that seemed unpleasant, and by the 15th century we find marmosets being referred to as worms. A Latinate alternative, vermin, …
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