Vermicelli, a thin, long type of pasta, has a less-than-appetizing word origin. There are varying standards of what qualifies as vermicelli; the Italians mandate that the diameter must be between 2.08 and 2.30 mm, but internationally those definitions can get a little looser. No matter what the meaning, it's inevitably a loanword from Italian, where it's a plural of vermicello, a term meaning "little worm". While initially shocking, this makes sense considering the shape of the pasta. Vermicello is a diminutive of verme ("worm"), which you can immediately tell is a cognate of the modern-day word worm. That's through Latin vermis, which eventually derives from Proto-Indo-European wrmis , with the same denotation. Usage of the word vermicelli has been decreasing since a peak in the 1780s, when it was apparently abnormally popular.
Adam Aleksic, a freshman studying linguistics at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in words, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
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