noun (1)
\ ˈham How to pronounce ham (audio) \

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
3a : 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


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 How to pronounce Ham (audio) \

Definition of Ham (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Other Words from ham

Noun (1)

ham adjective

Synonyms for ham

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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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 Before sunrise, dozens of D.C. pubgoers gathered over steaming plates of baked beans, eggs and ham at the Queen Vic, a cozy, English pub on H Street in Northeast Washington, to watch a live viewing of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Karina Tsui, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 Meals are made using produce and meat from the 1,000-acre estate, and breakfast might include eggs Benedict with paper-thin slices of ham, while dinner could be chargrilled venison with Jerusalem artichoke and poached quince. New York Times, 15 July 2022 The company discovered that some of the ham was not fully cooked, which prompted an investigation. Chris Smith, BGR, 20 May 2022 Grab a 10-inch pie with red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, bacon and ham for $9 this week. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, 5 Nov. 2021 Features a quart of soup (avgolemono, turkey avgolemono or pumpkin), Butterball turkey, ham, Greek stuffing, Greek potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet peas, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. George Castle, chicagotribune.com, 17 Nov. 2020 Funds will be used to purchase supermarket gift cards and certificates redeemable for a turkey or ham. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, 12 Nov. 2020 Hot dog prices jumped 4.9%, while ham was up 1.3% and turkey rose 2.2%. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, 13 Sep. 2022 As night falls, the comrades come upon an inviting cabin in the forest where robbers are scarfing ham and swilling wine and generally roistering. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But this week, the star behind the queen was determined to ham it up and have fun. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 2 Sep. 2022 Like many of the other portrayals on this list, when the legend is better than the truth, ham it up. Tim Moffatt, EW.com, 1 July 2022 The actors who get to ham it up are quickly the most entertaining, especially Jóhannesson and Asbjørn Krogh, who pops up halfway through the season as a vicious Christian Viking. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Feb. 2022 Most of the returning performers ham it up as much as possible, making this ambitious and absurd endeavor — basically, turning a meme into a bloated but fun, moving, and self-aware nostalgia trip of a movie — work. Carrie Wittmer, Rolling Stone, 18 Dec. 2021 Labor and supply shortages, along with a change in customer demand patterns, continue to affect many involved in the Christmas product supply chain in Indiana and across the country, from tree farmers to ham warehouses. Ko Lyn Cheang, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Dec. 2021 Other councilmembers looking to ham it up with Sawant struggled to find such common ground. Andrew Schwartz, The New Republic, 3 Dec. 2021 Attendees will also have the chance to indulge in additional mouthwatering munchies, collect tons of seltzer swag, and ham it up for ‘gram worthy epic photoshoots. Amber Love Bond, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 The atmosphere is lively and the menu is focused on pork in all its forms from chops to ham to pate, but there's also duck terrine, octopus, oysters, and a few vegetable dishes. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 6 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

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, 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."


derivative of ham entry 1 (sense 3)

Noun (2)


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Time Traveler for ham

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

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ham.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ham. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for ham


\ ˈham How to pronounce ham (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ham (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on ham

Nglish: Translation of ham for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ham for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ham


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