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any of certain segmented marine worms of the class Polychaeta (phylum Annelida), including species of the genera Hermodice and Eurythoe. Fireworms produce a stinging sensation if touched. The body of H. carunculata, found in the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, is covered with fine, white, brittle bristles that break if touched; they easily become imbedded in human skin and produce a substance that is highly irritating.