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

Right back Sime Vrsaljko limped off during the quarterfinal win over host Russia and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had a hamstring injury during extra time but remained in the match. Ronald Blum, BostonGlobe.com, "England ready to change the tune of its soccer history," 11 July 2018 Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had a hamstring injury during extra time against Russia but remained in the match and played his role when the game went to penalties. baltimoresun.com, "England vs. Croatia: What to watch for in today's World Cup semifinal," 11 July 2018 The Brewers put first baseman Eric Thames on the 10-day DL with right hamstring tightness and added pitcher Junior Guerra to that list with right forearm tightness. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers place Thames, Guerra on DL, activate Suter, recall Orf and Wilkerson from minors," 14 July 2018 Coming off the disabled list after being sidelined for a month with two sore hamstrings, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs in 4⅓ innings. David Ginsburg, BostonGlobe.com, "Sandoval singled winning run in the 11th," 11 July 2018 White tweaked a hamstring on Sunday that limited him to seven minutes will presumably end his run in Vegas, but he’s shown plenty. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "The Summer League Leap: Second-Year Players Making an Impact in Las Vegas," 9 July 2018 Leonys Martin suffered a left hamstring cramp while running to first on a two-out, bases-loaded bunt single in the fifth. George Sipple, Detroit Free Press, "Nicholas Castellanos, Jordan Zimmermann help Tigers end skid, 9-1," 1 July 2018 Many participating nations saw the inability to assign responsibility as a senseless hamstring, especially after fatal chemical attacks during the war in Syria. Raf Casert, Fox News, "Watchdog gets authority to assign blame in chemical attacks," 27 June 2018 Many participating nations saw that as a senseless hamstring, especially after chemical attacks in Syria. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 27, 2018," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

What will be said in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that might have been thwarted had not federal officials been hamstrung by concerns about being vilified at a later date? WSJ, "Democratic Leaders Have Known Since 2001," 14 May 2018 Which means that in Qatar, fans will not face the typical problems of being hamstrung by geographical factors. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Qatar is the World Cup every fan should attend," 13 July 2018 Need for a standard The discord on the committee could hamstring years of work toward a standard that researchers hope will reduce Legionnaires' disease, a sometimes deadly pneumonia-like illness. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Ethics charges could hurt fight against Legionnaires' disease," 5 July 2018 If the country needed to increase its spending on defense, or natural disaster relief, the government must have the flexibility to meet those needs without being hamstrung by a revenue constraint. Julie Heath, Cincinnati.com, "The problem with a balanced budget amendment," 3 May 2018 Disagreements between such new allies may hamstring PH. The Economist, "Malaysia’s 92-year-old opposition leader makes a final challenge," 5 May 2018 But that push could be hamstrung by an investigation that will examine workplace hazards at the plant. Kirsten Korosec, Fortune, "Tesla Under OSHA Investigation for Worker Safety as Elon Musk Ramps Up Model 3 Production," 18 Apr. 2018 Some also have been hamstrung by poor academic preparation in high school, while others — typically first-generation college-goers — struggle to navigate the Byzantine bureaucracy of higher education. James Vaznis, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston high school grads missing goal on degrees," 11 Apr. 2018 This administration has created a political environment that is emboldening criminals while hamstringing the police. Bill Ruthhart, chicagotribune.com, "McCarthy crime plan: Remove politics, Emanuel's meddling from Police Department," 9 July 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

2 Oct 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

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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Comments on hamstring

What made you want to look up hamstring? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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