ham

1 of 3

noun (1)

1
a
: 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
a
: a showy performer
especially : an actor performing in an exaggerated theatrical style
b
: someone who enjoys performing and who tends to behave in an exaggerated or playful way when people are watching
A bit of a ham, she's been collecting these one-liners for decades.Elizabeth Rubin
" … I was always sort of a ham. I talk a lot. I'm wild. I was always performing growing up … "Pokey LaFarge
c
: a licensed operator of an amateur radio station
4
: a cushion used especially by tailors for pressing curved areas of garments
ham adjective

ham

2 of 3

verb

hammed; hamming

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to overplay a part

Ham

3 of 3

noun (2)

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In reality, a solar eclipse brings a temporary sharp drop in solar radiation — an event that ham radio operators have been eagerly anticipating for months, with competitions and experiments looking to fill the Earth's suddenly radiation-free ionosphere with radio signals. Bill Chappell, NPR, 8 Apr. 2024 The menu has all the traditional toppings of pizza, including pepperoni, sausage, ham and pineapple, but also some curve balls like chorizo, beans and jalapenos. Carlos Rico, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Apr. 2024 For food, the team leader would buy cheap bread, ham, and cheese from the supermarket to make sandwiches. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Quality ham: Use high-quality ham for the tastiest bites. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 30 Mar. 2024 This one has an elegant, just-sweet-enough flavor that complements the savory ham beautifully. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 29 Mar. 2024 Perhaps just in time for a good Aussie red with Easter ham? Brendan Ahern, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 The entire buffet adds leg of lamb, ham and roast chicken, oysters, shrimp cocktail and ceviche, plus sides and salads. Bud Kennedy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 28 Mar. 2024 Meals consist of items such as bread, a scoop of peanut butter and slices of cheese or ham. Katie Moore, Kansas City Star, 28 Mar. 2024
Verb
This act also shows Lil Nas X’s rise including Madonna hamming for the cameras backstage at one of his shows. Lily Moayeri, SPIN, 27 Jan. 2024 The five-person group appears to be posing for the camera, hamming up their respective jobs. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 14 June 2023 Flopping Is a Welcome Sideshow: Basketball stars from Nikola Jokic to Kyle Lowry are hamming up their reactions to even the slightest contact, writes our columnist. James Hill, New York Times, 3 June 2023 In the clip, Lamar and Keem, who are cousins as well as frequent collaborators and tour mates, are seen hamming it on a private plane, blowing off some steam while playing video games backstage and running around Dodger Stadium with the never camera-shy Tyler, the Creator in tow. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 30 May 2023 Courtesy of Hello Glow Encourage guests to dress up in their holiday finest, turn up the festive music, have some holiday punch and holiday hors d'oeuvres at the ready, and set up a cute photo backdrop for you and your friends to ham it up in front of. Julia Ludlam, Country Living, 1 Dec. 2022 Alabama robs its prisoners of any kind of hope, and executes them eagerly and ham handedly. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, 23 Jan. 2023 One: a Natasha Lyonne impression that was deeper than Kroll’s normal speaking voice and managed to ham-fistedly reference Lou Reed. Vulture, 30 Sep. 2022 After 11 years of being a coach on The Voice, folks might think Blake Shelton only loves to ham it up for the TV cameras. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 12 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ham.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English hamme, homme "back of the knee, hock of a quadruped," going back to Old English hamm, homm (strong feminine) "back of the knee," going back to Germanic *hammō-, *hamō- (whence also Middle Dutch hamme "back of the knee, shank," Old High German hamma, hama (feminine weak noun) "hollow of the knee, calf, hock," hammo (masculine weak noun) "hock," Old Norse hǫm "back of the leg, haunch (of a horse)," going back to an Indo-European ablauting paradigm *konh2-m-, *kn̥h2-m-os, whence also Old Irish cnáim "bone," Greek knḗmē "shank, tibia"); (sense 3) probably short for hamfatter

Note: The presumption is that the Germanic etymon is a generalization of the nominative form, while the Celtic and Greek etyma maintained the oblique form. The geminate -mm- in the Germanic words is most likely a reduction of *-nm-; G. Kroonen (Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic, Brill, 2013) explains the variation between single and double -m- as "analogical degemination [loss of gemination] in the nominative case of an n-stem paradigm."

Verb

derivative of ham entry 1 (sense 3)

Noun (2)

Hebrew

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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

Verb

1933, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near ham

Cite this Entry

“Ham.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ham. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

ham

1 of 2 noun
1
: 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
a
: an unskillful but showy performer
b
: an operator of an amateur radio station
ham adjective

ham

2 of 2 verb
hammed; hamming
: to act with exaggerated speech or gestures
ham it up for the camera

Medical Definition

ham

noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on ham

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