DRUDGE: AS THE PRESS TURNS: OBAMA SAYS 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH'
Where does the phrase "the worm has turned" come from? from Maven Phrases:
It's one of many derived forms of an old proverb, the base of which is either tread on a worm and it will turn or even a worm will turn. It means 'even the most humble will strike back if abused enough'.
The proverb is first recorded in John Heywood's 1546 collection of proverbs in the form: "Tread a woorme on the tayle and it must turne agayne." Shakespeare uses it, of course: "The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on" (Henry VI, part III). It has remained common in all sorts of literature: "He's a very meek type. Still, the worm will turn, or so they say." (Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd).
The proverb's first American attestation is in 1703, and there are a number of eighteenth-century American examples, showing that it has been popular for some time.
In the form the worm has turned, the proverb is often used in the broad sense 'the situation has changed', which suggests that people aren't really clear about what it really means: The day was one short, flippary (sic) sound bite or two on how one Sen. Barrack H. Obama could say "fishwrap" and "lipstick on a pig" in two or three sentences and watch the worm turn 360 degrees in favor of Mr. McCain and running mate _____ (you know who!). Oh! And how the worm has turned for Mr. McCain--whose approval ratings now rise above Mr. Obama's s in my state by 10 percentage points! (re-tread on a quote from the venerable nyt)
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