The nematodes (pron.: //) or roundworms are traditionally regarded as the phylum Nematoida or Nemathelminthes. As such, they would be the most diverse phylum of pseudocoelomates, and one of the most diverse of all animal phyla, but discussion is in progress to determine whether the phylum is to be split or not.
Nematode species are very difficult to distinguish; over 28,000 have been described, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. The total number of nematode species has been estimated to be about 1 million. Unlike cnidarians and flatworms, nematodes have tubular digestive systems with openings at both ends.
The term worm // refers to an obsolete taxon (vermes) used by Carolus Linnaeus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for all non-arthropod invertebrate animals, and stems from the Old English word wyrm. Currently it is used to describe many different distantly related animals that typically have a long cylindrical tube-like body and no legs. Most animals called "worms" are invertebrates, but the term is also used for the amphibian caecilians and the slow worm Anguis, a legless burrowing lizard. Invertebrate animals commonly called "worms" include annelids (earthworms), nematodes (roundworms), platyhelminthes (flatworms), marine polychaete worms (bristle worms), marine nemertean worms ("bootlace worms"), marine Chaetognatha (arrow worms), priapulid worms, and insect larvae such as caterpillars, grubs, and maggots. Historical English-speaking cultures have used the (now deprecated) terms worm, Wurm, or wyrm to describe carnivorous reptiles ("serpents"), and the related mythical beasts dragons. The term worm can also be used as an insult or pejorative term used towards people to describe a cowardly or weak individual or individual seen as pitiable.