June 08, 2017
vermin (noun)
\VER-min\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: small common harmful or objectionable animals (as fleas or mice) that are difficult to get rid of
How do you use it?
"Littmus was hungry all the time. And he was covered with all manner of vermin: fleas and lice." (Kate DiCamillo, _Because of Winn-Dixie_)
Are you a word wiz?

Though "vermin" now applies generally to a variety of animals, its history concerns one in particular. Which of one of these creatures do you think lies at the root of the word "vermin"?

The word "vermin" is used for any small harmful or annoying insect or animal that is difficult to get rid of or control. Fleas, lice, mice, rats, and even rabbits when they destroy gardens have been labeled "vermin." However, the word "vermin" comes from a Latin word for a creature that is not usually thought of as troublesome. The word is "vermis," meaning "worm." The word "vermicelli," which English borrowed from Italian, can also be traced back to the Latin "vermis." The Italians used this word for "thin spaghetti" because the strands look like "little worms," which is what "vermicelli" means literally in Italian.
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