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
As for Alvarez Torres’ baked goods, there are savory croquettes filled with ham or chicken, mini tarts filled with coconut, guava or cheese, and Cuban pastries filed with guava, cheese, beef or coconut ($3 each). Kate Bradshaw, The Mercury News, 15 July 2024 Try the ham and mozzarella cheese torta with the usual chipotle salsa, onions, jalapeños, avocado, tomatoes and beans. David Ulloa Jr, The Arizona Republic, 12 July 2024
Verb
Democrats appeared to prefer a Brown run against Moreno, running ads hamming the businessman as conservative and pro-Trump -- seemingly to boost his bona fides with the conservative and pro-Trump primary electorate. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 19 Mar. 2024 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 See all Example Sentences for ham 

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 22 Jul. 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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