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

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 Nunez was with Triple-A Nashville after injuring his left hamstring in spring training with the Athletics. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Rangers claim infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez from Oakland," 15 Apr. 2018 The Heat were without center Hassan Whiteside for a fifth consecutive game and guard Dwyane Wade for a fourth consecutive game, Whiteside with a sore hip, Wade with a balky hamstring. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "James Johnson seizes control late as Heat outlast Nuggets 149-141 in 2OT," 20 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Reviczky said his agency’s efforts to improve the market were hamstrung by staff and budget cuts. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Decline Of Hartford Regional Market Linked To State Fiscal Woes," 12 June 2018 That would fall short of the actions that Trump demands — and thus would not lead to the relief Kiim seeks from bruising economic sanctions that have hamstrung growth in the secretive nation of 25 million people. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "President Donald Trump should be awarded Nobel Peace Prize, South Korean leader says," 30 Apr. 2018 While prosecutors presented an overwhelming amount of evidence, they were hamstrung by a ruling that barred them from presenting expert testimony like DNA and ballistics evidence or the conclusions of the medical examiner’s report. Matthew Barakat, The Seattle Times, "Jury hears closing arguments in trial for slain officer," 25 Sep. 2018 But the judge said he was hamstrung by previous court decisions, which forced him to deny the request to keep secret the identities of Jane Doe and John Doe, a 19-year-old man who is also a part of the case. Dara Kam, OrlandoSentinel.com, "NRA plaintiff can't keep name secret in gun lawsuit, judge rules," 14 May 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

11 Dec 2018

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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

b : hamstring muscle

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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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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