noun (1)
\ˈham \

Definition of ham 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : the hollow of the knee

b : a buttock with its associated thigh usually used in plural

2 : a cut of meat consisting of a thigh especially : one from a hog

3 [ short for hamfatter, from "The Ham-fat Man," minstrel song ]

a : a showy performer especially : an actor performing in an exaggerated theatrical style

b : a licensed operator of an amateur radio station

4 : a cushion used especially by tailors for pressing curved areas of garments


hammed; hamming

Definition of ham (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to execute with exaggerated speech or gestures : overact ham it up for the camera

intransitive verb

: to overplay a part


noun (2)
\ˈham \

Definition of Ham (Entry 3 of 3)

: a son of Noah held to be the progenitor of the Egyptians, Nubians, and Canaanites

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Other Words from ham

Noun (1)

ham adjective

Examples of ham in a Sentence

Noun (1)

We're having ham for dinner. He was once a fine actor, but now he's just an old ham. Cameras bring out the ham in her.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At three years old, the young royal has already proved to be quite a ham for the cameras, often sharing a parting wave or pulling funny faces during official appearances. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Princess Charlotte Had Some Adorable Attitude During the Royal Air Force Flypast," 10 July 2018 Nestle the ham and greens mixture around the cheese. Jeanmarie Brownson, charlotteobserver, "Warm cheese meets fresh herbs in a happy springtime marriage," 19 June 2018 But Santiago's not keeping any secrets, openly encouraging people to get creative, which has resulted in innovations like the double ham, egg, and cheese with steak, and the triple steak with egg and cheese. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "Food & Drink / Food Chain The return of the great Cafe Marianao to the north side," 3 June 2018 Reality in 2018 can be ham-fisted, to be sure; the writers of history seem to have jumped the shark. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman draws a ham-fisted line from white supremacy’s past to its present," 15 May 2018 Brush half the remaining glaze over the ham and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Woman's Day, "Orange-Red Pepper Jelly and Orange Glazed Ham," 12 Feb. 2018 Fold the cheese the same way and then place over ham. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "The best recipes of 2017 that wowed us over and over," 7 Jan. 2018 In this retelling of the viral prank, Drew was a massively famous and respected street court star who could outplay an entire opposing team while carrying a ham sandwich. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "'Uncle Drew': Lil Rel Howery coaches NBA all-stars to surprising win," 26 June 2018 Now the irony is this: With Trump’s disapproval in New Jersey at more than 60 percent, the Democrats could probably hold this seat by running a ham sandwich. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Voters wanted a revolution. How'd they get stuck with corrupt Bob Menendez? | Will Bunch," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Residents are urged to plan ahead and take precaution in the event of a fast-moving storm suddenly hamming the area. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis weather: Heat advisory in effect for 4th of July," 2 July 2018 Photo: muhammad hamed/Reuters Complete details of Friday’s agreement were unclear, including whether Russian or Syrian forces controlled the border. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Syrian Regime Takes Key Border Crossing as More Rebel Towns Surrender," 6 July 2018 Decked out in black, the couple hammed it up for the photo crew, throwing in some surprise kisses as the cameras flashed. Chris Payne, Billboard, "Ashlee Simpson Ross & Evan Ross Hit the Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet in Style," 20 May 2018 Always ready to ham it up, BTS hung backstage with Taylor Swift, Lil Pump, Pharrell Williams and John Legend -- effortlessly charming all of them! Morgan Enos, Billboard, "BTS at the BBMAs: Their 9 Most Memorable Moments Onstage and Off," 21 May 2018 First stop: the Preacher, aka Chris Webber, hamming it up quite impressively as an actual preacher who sounds something like James Brown. Jocelyn Noveck, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘Uncle Drew’ has a predictable game plan," 28 June 2018 In a scene reminiscent of two gigantic TV wrestlers grappling for holds, the prehistoric beasts grunt, puff and ham it up for all the world like Gorgeous George and Man Mountain Dean. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'King Kong vs. Godzilla': THR's 1963 Review," 26 June 2018 Then Leconte, who had been hamming it up for the crowd, began to crank up his game. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "Cheering John McEnroe in Paris Never Gets Old," 9 June 2018 Unlike President Barack Obama -- or even President George W. Bush -- Trump isn't hamming it up with a bunch of world leaders. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "The already iconic G7 photo is a Trump Rorschach test," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ham.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ham

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1933, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ham

Noun (1)

Middle English hamme, from Old English hamm; akin to Old High German hamma ham, Greek knēmē shinbone, Old Irish cnáim bone

Noun (2)


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Statistics for ham

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ham

The first known use of ham was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for ham



English Language Learners Definition of ham

: meat from the leg of a hog that is often prepared by smoking or salting

: a bad actor who performs in an exaggerated way

: someone who enjoys performing and who tends to behave in an exaggerated or playful way when people are watching


\ˈham \

Kids Definition of ham

1 : a cut of meat consisting of a thigh of pork

2 : an operator of an amateur radio station

3 : a showy performer I know she likes attention, but what a ham!


\ˈham \

Medical Definition of ham 

1 : the part of the leg behind the knee : the hollow of the knee : popliteal space

2 : a buttock with its associated thigh or with the posterior part of a thigh usually used in plural

3 : a hock or the hinder part of a hock

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Comments on ham

What made you want to look up ham? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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