\ 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 The menu also dips into the American sandwich lexicon (tuna salad, turkey, ham and cheese, eggy breakfast numbers), but stick to the banh mi. Los Angeles Times, "Eight great places for takeout banh mi," 8 May 2020 The Provençal pan bagnat, savory with tuna and olives, or a decadent croque tartine parisienne (open-faced ham-and-cheese with béchamel sauce) is in order. Saveur Editors, Saveur, "65 Classic French Recipes to Add to Your Repertoire," 8 May 2020 For $60, the family-sized meal includes a savory galette, homemade brioche with plum jam and French butter, Bayonne ham and pickles, miso deviled eggs, fresh fruit and a spring salad with wine and Bloody Mary or mimosa kits available for extra. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "Where to find Mother’s Day brunch -- and more -- for takeout and delivery at home," 6 May 2020 These fluffy skillet pancakes are like supersize popovers, perfect for piling on tasty toppings like lemon curd and berries, or go savory with ham and cheese. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Dutch Babies," 30 Apr. 2020 Smoke Shack is at 332 N. Milwaukee St. The Union House The to-go brunch has a choice of entree (steak and egg bake, caprese quiche, or ham and cheese egg bake) and choice of dessert (lemon meringue, strawberry shortcake or chocolate cheesecake). Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee-area restaurants are doing Mother's Day specials by takeout this year," 30 Apr. 2020 Choose between sliced ham and sliced turkey breast. Katie Bowlby, Country Living, "Restaurants Open on Mother's Day 2020 for Delivery or Carryout," 29 Apr. 2020 For her that means benne-seed biscuits topped with local country ham and hollandaise punched up with her version of kitchen pepper, an idiosyncratic blend of pepper and warm spices. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "4 Decadent Brunch Recipes, for When You Really Need to Treat Yourself," 17 Apr. 2020 Think of these three-ingredient bites as fancy ham and cheese sandwiches and watch them disappear at your Christmas party this year. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Prosciutto and Mustard Pinwheels," 21 Dec. 2019 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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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