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A 16th-century cadaver tomb in Bossu, Belgium, featuring a transi (an artistic depiction of a rotting cadaver) in a state of vermiculation (sense 2)
An “Etruscan”-style Sèvres teapot called a pestum decorated by Gilbert Drouet with flowers and insects and gold vermiculation (sense 3)
Vermiculation (sense 3) on the facade of 286 boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, France

From Latin vermiculatio, from vermiculārī[1] + -tiō (suffix forming nouns relating to actions or the results of actions) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *-tis (suffix forming abstract or action nouns from verb roots)). Vermiculārī is the present active infinitive of vermiculor (to be worm-eaten, wormy), from vermis (worm) (from Proto-Indo-European *wr̥mis (worm), possibly from *wer- (to turn)).



vermiculation (plural vermiculations)

  1. (obsolete, rare) The process of being turned into a worm.
    • 1658, Edward Topsel [i.e., Edward Topsell], “Of Flyes”, in The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents: [...] Collected out of the Writings of Conradus Gesner and Other Authors, [...], London: Printed by E. Cotes, for G. Sawbridge [et al.], OCLC 5894574787, page 933:
      But yet the queſtion would be, whether Flyes are not immediately generated of putrefaction, and not thoſe of worms. For experience witneſſeth that there are a certain kinde of Flies which are begotten in the back of the Elm, Turpentine-tree, Wormwood, and ſo perchance in other herbs and plants, without any preceding vermiculation, or being turned into little worms firſt.
  2. The state of being infested or consumed by worms.
    • 2005, Susan Zimmerman, The Early Modern Corpse and Shakespeare’s Theatre, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, →ISBN, page 130:
      The violent and voyeuristic imagery of the transi tombs, particularly in the horrific detailing of vermiculation, had a ghoulish counterpart in the 'grim coupling', the 'shaking of the sheets' of the danse macabre [].
    • 2007, Terry G[rey] Sherwood, “‘Ego Videbo’: Donne and the Vocational Self”, in The Self in Early Modern Literature: For the Common Good (Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies), Pittsbugh, Pa.: Duquesne University Press, →ISBN, page 149:
      The sermon rehearses [John] Donne's phobic obsession with putrefaction, vermiculation, dissolution, and dispersal.
  3. A pattern of irregular wavy lines resembling worms or their casts or tracks, found on the plumage of birds, used to decorate artworks and buildings, etc. [from early 17th c.]
    • 1878 December, “Birds Occurring in India, Not Described in Jerdon or hitherto in ‘Stray Feathers’”, in Allan [Octavian] Hume, editor, Stray Feathers: A Journal of Ornithology for India and Its Dependencies, volume VII, number 3–4, Calcutta: Printed and published by A. Acton, at the Calcutta Central Press, 5, Council House Street, OCLC 970002151, page 353:
      74 ter A.—Scops gymnopodus. Gr. [] [F]eathers of the crown varied with blackish mesial streaks; the cross vermiculations being also rather coarser than on the back, all with concealed tawny buff bases, but very few with any indications of a subterminal buff bar, so that the general appearance of the head is very uniform; []
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “Afterglow”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326, page 188:
      As a matter of fact its narrow ornate façade presented not a single quiet space that the eyes might rest on after a tiring attempt to follow and codify the arabesques, foliations, and intricate vermiculations of what some disrespectfully dubbed as "near-aissance."
    • 1911, W[illim] H[ayes] Ward, “Style of Henry II. (1530–90)”, in The Architecture of the Renaissance in France: A History of the Evolution of the Arts of Building, Decoration and Garden Design under Classical Influence from 1495 to 1830, volume I, London: B. T. Batsford, 94 High Holborn, OCLC 779205446, page 176:
      The new building at the château of Joigny (begun 1569) has some interesting bits of classical composition very sober for the time. [] The outer gatehouse [] added by [Gaspard II de] Coligny to his château of Tanlay (1570) is an excellently proportioned building with effective use of rustication to give strength to the basement, the blocks being treated with patterns of anchors, waves, and ropes in lieu of vermiculation and in allusion to the owner's office of admiral.
    • 2003, David Winfield; June Winfield, The Church of the Panaghia Tou Arakos at Lagoudhera, Cyprus: The Paintings and Their Painterly Significance (Dunbarton Oaks Studies; 37), Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, →ISBN, page 130:
      The design consists of repeated squares, each bisected by diagonals that form triangles filled with vermiculation (Pl[ate] 11, reveal pattern d). Design 2, in windows [18 and 30], has a ground similar to Design 1, but the stripes are overlaid with a continuous scroll pattern filled with vermiculation in umber line (Pl. 11, reveal pattern f).
  4. (physiology, dated) Peristalsis (wave-like contraction of the digestive tract, resembling the movement of a worm).
    • 1890, Andrew Jackson Howe, “Ovariotomy”, in Operative Gynæcology, Cincinnati, Oh.: Robert Clarke & Co., OCLC 10001623, section XI (Abdominotomy), pages 240–241:
      When a patient dies on the fourth, fifth or sixth day, the cause is traumatic peritonitis. Lack of food, sleep and rest, is exhausting, but the poisoning of ferments—exudates and effusions in the peritoneal cavity—determines the fatal issue. Knuckles of intestines become agglutinated and held rigid. The normal and necessary vermiculation is cut off. At an autopsy the folds of the intestines seem glued together, as do the cerebral convolutions in brain fever. From such agglutination there is no relief—no method of cure. The injection of warm water and free manipulation of the bowels with the hand, is the only method of diluting the gluey exudates, and exciting normal vermiculation.
    • 1991, International Journal of Oriental Medicine, volume 16, number 1, Long Beach, Calif.: OHAI Press, ISSN 1044-0003, OCLC 752467578, page 46:
      Deficiency of vital energy, characterized as "gastrointestinal weakness," is a functional decrease of digestive absorption; i.e., insufficient secretion of peptic fluid, loss of appetite due to decrease of gastrointestinal vermiculation, []

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