ham·​string | \ ˈham-ˌstriŋ \

Definition of hamstring 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : either of two groups of tendons at the back of the human knee
b : any of three muscles at the back of the thigh that function to flex and rotate the leg and extend the thigh
2 : a large tendon above and behind the hock of a quadruped


hamstrung\ ˈham-​ˌstrəŋ \; hamstringing\ ˈham-​ˌstriŋ-​iŋ \

Definition of hamstring (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make ineffective or powerless : cripple hamstrung by guilt
2 : to cripple by cutting the leg tendons

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Examples of hamstring in a Sentence


The mayor tried to hamstring our efforts by cutting the budget. The company claims it is being hamstrung by government regulations.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

John Sleezer The first start of his career was delayed by a minor hamstring strain. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Kyle Zimmer had such promise. But the Royals' patience has run out | The Kansas City Star," 29 Mar. 2018 So now Schmid is looking for answers as to why players such as Gio dos Santos, out with his third hamstring strain since August, can't stay healthy. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "Wounded Galaxy could struggle to field a team in Vancouver," 24 Mar. 2018 Veteran guard Eric Kush returns after missing all of 2017 with a torn hamstring, while swing tackle Bradley Sowell is back after signing a two-year contract. Colleen Kane, chicagotribune.com, "Can new coach Harry Hiestand lift Bears offensive line to the top of its game?," 9 July 2018 Rodriguez missed several months with a knee injury and then injured his hamstring last month and has yet to really impact the Sounders as hoped. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Forget the playoffs, Sounders now have a shot at a first-round bye," 14 Aug. 2018 After returning and appearing in 24 games, Prado re-injured his hamstring and returned to the DL. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Lewis Brinson lands on DL with hip injury; Prado, Cooper nearing returns," 4 July 2018 Four minutes later, the tears were flowing down the face of Carvajal after the Madrid right back appeared to injure a hamstring while attempting a back-heel. Rob Harris, Houston Chronicle, "Gareth Bale's scissor-kick gives Real Madrid 3rd straight European title," 26 May 2018 The veteran has started every game and has been nursing a balky hamstring. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Javy Guerra makes the big leagues for Padres," 4 May 2018 When starting point guard Elfrid Payton injured his left hamstring in Orlando’s second game, Augustin stepped into the starting lineup. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "D.J. Augustin: 2017-18 Orlando Magic season review," 2 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

How clever of the climate to decimate only the lands hamstrung by these environmental laws. Tom Mcclintock, WSJ, "Only Good Management Can Prevent Forest Fires," 17 Dec. 2018 Many participating nations felt the inability to assign responsibility hamstrung the organization, especially after fatal chemical attacks during the war in Syria. Washington Post, "Watchdog gets authority to assign blame in chemical attacks," 27 June 2018 What should be a great market for sellers — with homes snapped up in days by a bumper crop of eager buyers — instead appears increasingly to be stuck, hamstrung by low inventory that drives prices higher each month. Ely Portillo, charlotteobserver, "Fast-rising home prices are driving buyers out of the Charlotte market," 10 July 2018 But several members, both voting and nonvoting, have raised concerns that the change will hamstring some of the most knowledgeable and engaged members of the transit agency’s governing board. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Pushed by Virginia lawmakers, Metro board agrees to internal restructuring," 28 June 2018 The South American nation has been hamstrung by hyperinflation, a $7 billion debt default, food shortages and an exodus of millions of Venezuelans. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "New OPEC President Starts With a Disadvantage: He’s From Venezuela," 6 Dec. 2018 But Lamont also must overcome the economic legacy of the Malloy adminstration, one that has been hamstrung by chronic budget deficits, tax increases and the loss of companies such as General Electric. Neil Vigdor, courant.com, "Second Chances: Democrats Endorse Ned Lamont For Governor, Joe Ganim Plans To Primary," 19 May 2018 The plaintiffs’ case has none of the technical problems that hamstrung the Wisconsin and Maryland challenges this year. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Kennedy’s Retirement Could Threaten Efforts to End Partisan Gerrymandering," 30 June 2018 City Councilman Ryan Dorsey, an advocate of biking and transit, says buses are hamstrung by Baltimore’s road design, which prioritizes cars. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "After one year of BaltimoreLink, ridership has bounced back, but reliability remains below goals," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hamstring.' 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 hamstring


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for hamstring

Last Updated

25 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hamstring

The first known use of hamstring was in 1565

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More Definitions for hamstring



English Language Learners Definition of hamstring

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a tendon at the back of a person's knee

: a muscle at the back of a person's upper leg



English Language Learners Definition of hamstring (Entry 2 of 2)

: to damage or ruin the force or effectiveness of (something or someone)


ham·​string | \ ˈham-ˌstriŋ \

Medical Definition of hamstring 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : either of two groups of tendons bounding the upper part of the popliteal space at the back of the knee and forming the tendons of insertion of some muscles of the back of the thigh
2 : a large tendon above and behind the hock of a quadruped corresponding to the human Achilles tendon


transitive verb
hamstrung\ -​ˌstrəŋ \; hamstringing\ -​ˌstriŋ-​iŋ \

Medical Definition of hamstring (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cripple by cutting the leg tendons folklore has it that wolf packs try to hamstring their prey— John Madson

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More from Merriam-Webster on hamstring

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hamstring

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hamstring

Spanish Central: Translation of hamstring

Nglish: Translation of hamstring for Spanish Speakers

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