ham·​string | \ ˈham-ˌstriŋ How to pronounce hamstring (audio) \

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 How to pronounce hamstrung (audio) \; hamstringing\ ˈham-​ˌstriŋ-​iŋ How to pronounce hamstringing (audio) \

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

Three innings later, Cabrera was out of the game with a tight left hamstring and the Mets were forced to put Jose Reyes — who was batting all of .139 this season entering Sunday — into the lineup to replace him. Wallace Matthews, New York Times, "Citi Field Freezes Over: Mets Beat the Yankees," 11 June 2018 Overall, the lunge is a really solid go-to move for strengthening all the major muscle groups in your lower half, including the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Amy Marturana, SELF, "18 Lunge Variations That Will Work Your Butt From Every Angle," 5 Apr. 2019 The training should strengthen the glutes, hips and hamstrings and also help prevent injuries. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Magic forward Jonathan Isaac works to strengthen his body during critical offseason," 11 June 2018 More questionable is wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who pulled a hamstring on a long catch and didn’t return. John Zenor, The Seattle Times, "QB Tagovailoa scare a reminder Alabama’s Plan B is good, too," 15 Oct. 2018 Now Diego Reyes, his best defensive midfielder who could also play in the back, couldn’t recover from a pulled hamstring and is out as well. Mark Zeigler, sandiegouniontribune.com, "The tinkerer: Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio fiddles with a national institution," 16 June 2018 Karen has survived being hit by a truck while training on her bike, a bout with thyroid cancer and having a hamstring severed by a falling storm window. Lori Riley, courant.com, "Wethersfield's Donna Smyers To Join Her Sister Karen In Triathlon Hall Of Fame," 4 June 2018 Paul missed 24 games this season with a variety of injuries, including a hamstring. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets' Chris Paul suffers apparent hamstring injury in Game 5," 24 May 2018 Michael Randolph of Winter Springs, the area leader in the boys 100 (10.87), also rested a tender hamstring. Buddy Collings, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Joab Francois can’t resist urge to rally for 1,600 win | Seminole Athletic Conference track and field," 6 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Patches, as free and minor updates are called, became a valuable tool for smoothing out glitches that, in a previous era, would hamstring games for eternity. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Google's 'Stadia' Is the Latest Attack in the War on Games You Can Actually Own," 19 Mar. 2019 Supporters of the lawsuit contend SB 54 makes the public less safe, hamstrings law enforcement and that, in general, people want law enforcement agencies cooperating. Michael Smolens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Red California's revenge on sanctuary laws," 6 Apr. 2018 He is hamstrung by his own lack of pragmatism and impulse control. David Runciman, WSJ, "China’s Challenge to Democracy," 26 Apr. 2018 Our government is hamstrung by excessive partisanship. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Here's Every Democrat Officially Running in the 2020 Presidential Election So Far," 11 Mar. 2019 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, Fox News, "Jury hears closing arguments in trial for slain officer," 25 Sep. 2018 To be sure, State Street is still the third-largest ETF issuer, but it has been hamstrung by a product suite that’s vulnerable to market whims. Asjylyn Loder, WSJ, "The $5 Trillion Question: How Did the Firm That Pioneered ETFs Lose Its Lead?," 27 July 2018 Advocacy groups have long called on the federal government to automate disability discharges, but policymakers said they were hamstrung by tax law. Danielle Douglas-gabriel, Washington Post, "Trump administration streamlining student debt forgiveness for permanently disabled veterans," 16 Apr. 2018 Bond investors have been hamstrung recently by a paucity of U.S. economic-data releases, some of which haven’t been released because of the partial government shutdown. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, "U.S. Government Bonds Mixed," 14 Jan. 2019

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

1 May 2019

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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 How to pronounce hamstring (audio) \

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 How to pronounce hamstrung (audio) \; hamstringing\ -​ˌstriŋ-​iŋ How to pronounce hamstringing (audio) \

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 sum of money that is sent as a payment

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