\ 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
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 : 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
\ 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

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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 Nobody wants to see your ham and cheese sandwich up close. Beth Thames | Bethmthames@gmail.com, al, "Do you Zoom? Why yes, I do," 8 July 2020 Those who grew too ill to eat sat listless over ham loaf alongside healthier residents in the dining hall. Washington Post, "The ‘Covid Cocktail’: Inside a Pa. nursing home that gave some veterans hydroxychloroquine even without covid-19 testing," 7 July 2020 The ham that Mack grew up on was of the spiral-cut, glazed, and baked variety, plus a New Jersey specialty called Taylor Pork Roll; his mother is from Trenton, and her family was from North Carolina. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, "A Top Sommelier Is Upending Culinary Perspectives with His Ham Bar," 12 June 2020 Reg Silvey, the Cape Pembroke lighthouse keeper and a radio ham, rigged an aerial out of a steel-core washing line and transmitted troop information to the British. Larissa Macfarquhar, The New Yorker, "How Prosperity Transformed the Falklands," 29 June 2020 Also canceled: The Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Country Ham Breakfast and the champion ham auction, which typically raises $1 million. USA TODAY, "Shah Bar, infected ‘Idol,’ famed mall to close: News from around our 50 states," 24 June 2020 Also canceled: The Kentucky Farm Bureau's Country Ham Breakfast and the champion ham auction, which typically raises $1 million. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Lacking indoor space, some Kentucky State Fair vendors say they'll sit this one out," 23 June 2020 However, ham radio operator @ai6yrham described the object as a high-altitude balloon. Fox News, "Mysterious balloon-like 'UFO' object spotted over Japan," 18 June 2020 This new pizza spot will celebrate dad with 25% off the specialty Meat Head Pizza that’s loaded with sausage, pepperoni and ham. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Father's Day 2020: 48 metro Phoenix restaurants with special deals for dine-in and takeout," 15 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Henry Santos in particular danced, clapped and hammed it up at every turn. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Aventura makes Houston swoon, again, at second Toyota Center show," 23 Feb. 2020 At events in Iowa, Biden is still hamming it up with visitors, hugging here and squeezing there. Time, "Facing First 2020 Test, Joe Biden Is Doing Things His Way," 2 Feb. 2020 To get fans to buy in, some artists are hamming it up. Micah Singleton, Billboard, "Why Hundreds of Music Stars Are Giving Fans Their Phone Numbers," 10 Nov. 2019 That includes hamming it up for a live show Tuesday morning, planning on enough Lakers and Clippers fans will fill a studio audience for ambiance. Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times, "LeBron James and China isn’t a topic game broadcasters are eager to discuss," 20 Oct. 2019 The pals met the press together on Thursday morning, really hamming it up for the cameras by running around, sharing toys and playing hide-and-seek. Kate Hogan, PEOPLE.com, "These Photos of the New Dog and Cheetah Besties at the Cincinnati Zoo Will Give You All the Friday Feels," 4 Oct. 2019 Both hammed it up a bit for the crowd with some mid-song banter. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Glee vets Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff perform I'll Be Home for Christmas," 17 Dec. 2019 And the best all-around tight end ever to play the game is now hamming it up on television for a living. BostonGlobe.com, "Welcome to the Unconventional Review, which comes in lieu of the Unconventional Preview during the Patriots’ bye week when, as you might have noticed, there is no game to preview.," 11 Nov. 2019 Embiid hammed it up with teammates and the crowd before leaving the court. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns suspended after fight and escalating antics," 31 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for ham

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ham

Last Updated

19 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ham.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ham. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for ham


How to pronounce Ham (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ham

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ham

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ham

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ham

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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