The idiom “even a worm will turn” means that even the meekest or most docile of creatures will retaliate or seek revenge if pushed too far. The phrase is used to convey the message that everyone has a breaking point, and that even the most unlikely of people will eventually fight back if they are mistreated.
Origin & History Of “Even A Worm Will Turn”
The idiom “even a worm will turn” is thought to have originated in England, and it is likely that it was influenced by the country’s long history of animal husbandry. Farmers would have been familiar with the fact that even the most gentle of animals will eventually fight back if they are mistreated.
Although we associate the idiom with Shakespeare the idea is something that was around before he spun his poetic magic around it. The earliest known use of the idea in print is in a 1546 collection of proverbs by John Heywood, in the form:
“Treade a worme on the tayle, and it must turne agayne.”
The Shakespeare Connection
The idiom “even a worm will turn” is most strongly associated with Shakespeare. The phrase was used by Shakespeare in his play Henry VI, Part 3, in the lines “To whom do lions cast their gentle looks? Not to the beast that would usurp their den. The smallest worm will turn being trodden on, And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.”
Here Shakespeare is using the idiom to convey the message that even the meekest or most docile of creatures will retaliate if they are mistreated. The line is spoken by Lord Clifford, who is addressing the Duke of York. Clifford is warning York that he should not underestimate the power of the people, even if they seem weak and helpless.
The idiom “even a worm will turn” is a powerful reminder that everyone has a breaking point. Even the most gentle of creatures will eventually fight back if they are pushed too far. This is a message that is still relevant today, and it is one that we should all keep in mind.
The Idiom in Popular Culture
The idiom “even a worm will turn” has been used in a variety of popular culture references.
The idiom “even a worm will turn” has also been used in a number of songs. The most famous example is probably the 2019 album “Even a worm will turn” by Senza that contains songs like this:
“Armed with contempt
Strikes from the sky
Squirm in pain and freeze in terror
Humble call to arms disregarded
Last effort retaliation
Hell on earth
No divine will save us from ourselves
Save me from myself”
The Idiom In Films
The idiom “even a worm will turn” has also been used in a number of films. One of the most famous examples is the 1995 film “Heat.” In the film, a character is described as “even a worm will turn” by increasing the amount of money he is willing to pay for a stolen car.
One of the earliest known uses of the phrase was in the 1952 film “The Bad and the Beautiful.” In the film, a character is described as “even a worm will turn” by making a more challenging offer to a director.
Using the Idiom in Modern Discourse
The idiom “even a worm will turn” is still in use today. It is often used in a business context, where companies may “turn” on their employees if they are mistreated. The phrase is also used in a political context, where politicians may “turn” on their constituents if they are no longer popular.
The idiom “even a worm will turn” can be used in a variety of ways in modern discourse. Here are a few examples:
- “Even a worm will turn if you step on it.”
- “The company turned on its employees when they went on strike.”
- “The politician turned on his constituents when they stopped voting for him.”
- “The bully finally retreated when he realized that he was no match for the victim.”
The idiom “even a worm will turn” is a common phrase that is used to describe the fact that everyone has a breaking point. The phrase has a long history, and it has been used in a variety of contexts over the years. The idiom is still in use today, and it is likely to continue to be used for many years to come.