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

The sausage, based on a Cuban sandwich, also contains ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Sausage Co. finds a spot in local culture," 26 June 2018 Kapur starts with a mixture of 90 percent pork shoulder and 10 percent brined, smoked deli ham. Ali Bouzari, SFChronicle.com, "Housemade: The magic of Liholiho Yacht Club," 22 June 2018 On this night, a little roasted red pepper ($3 each) came oozing velvety béchamel perfumed with minced jamon serrano (Spanish-style ham). James Patrick Kelly, idahostatesman, "Downtown Boise’s Txikiteo bolsters the list of locally owned Basque eateries," 30 May 2018 Roseanne Barr, who plays the titular character on the hit ABC show, plans to go to the hospital for knee surgery when her family surprises her with a goodbye meal that includes ham, cake and casserole. Washington Post, "‘Roseanne’ ends season with a hopeful note as storms brew," 22 May 2018 The group wants visitors to learn the basics of amateur radio, also known as ham radio. Frank Vaisvilas, Daily Southtown, "Group promotes amateur radio in south suburbs," 21 June 2018 There's plenty of room to think outside the sandwich here, with fillings like sliced apples and cheddar; bacon and tomato; or ham and pineapple. Kroger, The Courier-Journal, "School's out for summer! Now what? Simplify with these 6 tips for parents," 18 June 2018 The menu is scrambled eggs, French toast, home fries, ham, sausage, coffee, tea, orange juice and hot cocoa. Courant Community, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 10 Apr. 2018 In Carmel, find a New Orleans-style muffaletta with mortadella, city ham, salame cotto, provolone, mozzarella, olive salad and giardiniera on a sesame roll. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Sun King Distillery in Carmel: What to know before you go," 3 July 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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Dictionary Entries near ham








Phrases Related to ham

ham it up

Statistics for ham

Last Updated

12 Sep 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).


the setting in which something occurs

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