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

Verb 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 Defensive lineman Carlos Watkins injured his hamstring. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans' Dylan Cole injures calf," 22 Nov. 2019 The former forced me to hold my core tight while the latter managed both to stretch my hip flexors and work my hamstrings. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Club Pilates hits mark with zero-impact ‘Cardio Sculpt’ class: Stretching Out," 6 Nov. 2019 Edmonds injured his hamstring during the game against the Saints. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson likely to return against Tampa Bay Buccaneers," 1 Nov. 2019 Drake could be put to work quickly in Arizona, as running back David Johnson was inactive for Sunday's loss to the Saints while dealing with an ankle injury and Chase Edmonds did not return after hurting his hamstring. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Miami Dolphins trade RB Kenyan Drake to Arizona Cardinals," 28 Oct. 2019 UP NEXT Twins: Manager Rocco Baldelli had not announced a Game 2 starter, but RHP Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51 ERA) is the most likely candidate as long as his tender left hamstring is OK. Mike Fitzpatrick, The Denver Post, "DJ LeMahieu lifts Yankees past Twins in Game 1 of ALDS," 4 Oct. 2019 The left hamstring is the one Seager strained in mid-June. Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: The one where Doc Rivers quit as Clippers coach," 26 Sep. 2019 So if your hamstrings are also tight, the stretch may bypass your calves and go straight there. Stephanie Mansour, NBC News, "What is plantar fasciitis? And what can you do to relieve the pain?," 16 July 2019 The shooting guard Klay Thompson had sat out Game 3 after hurting his hamstring. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "Kevin Durant’s Disastrous Comeback," 11 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It was widely reported that Levy broke the club's strict wage structure to tie talisman Harry Kane to a new long-term contract but the expenditure on the stadium meant Pochettino was hamstrung in the transfer market. Matias Grez, CNN, "Jose Mourinho and Tottenham: A match made in heaven ... or hell?," 20 Nov. 2019 The Patriots did move the ball on offense, but didn’t finish drives and were hamstrung by turnovers, bad penalties, and getting demolished in the time-of-possession battle. BostonGlobe.com, "In second game with Patriots, Mohamed Sanu finds a comfort zone - The Boston Globe," 4 Nov. 2019 Flexibility, Merchant said, can be hard to find when one is hamstrung by rapidly-changing, time-consuming court obligations. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "This nonprofit wants to bail out as many people as possible in Indianapolis," 21 Oct. 2019 But the recommendations were released quietly on the agency website to avoid publicity that might frighten the public, according to former EPA officials who said the agency was hamstrung by a problem that could cost billions of dollars. Author: Tammy Webber, Martha Irvine, Anchorage Daily News, "Toxic PCBs linger in schools as EPA and lawmakers fail to act," 16 Oct. 2019 And while central banks are hamstrung by low rates, fighting low inflation will increasingly fall to fiscal policy. The Economist, "The world economyInflation is losing its meaning as an economic indicator," 10 Oct. 2019 But they're mostly hamstrung by their one-note characters, which for Key means behaving as manically as possible and Leguizamo repeatedly mangling historical quotes and displaying an intense proclivity for cooking with Spam. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Playing With Fire': Film Review," 7 Nov. 2019 But he also was hamstrung by organizational dysfunction and rampant injuries. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Redskins fire coach Jay Gruden after winless start," 7 Oct. 2019 But they were hamstrung by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's tight restrictions. Damian Paletta, Anchorage Daily News, "Federal agencies dramatically expand exposure to risky mortgages, echoing concerns before Great Recession," 3 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for hamstring

Time Traveler

The first known use of hamstring was in 1565

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Statistics for hamstring

Last Updated

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Hamstring.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hamstringing?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=h&file=hamstr03. Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for hamstring


How to pronounce hamstring (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hamstring

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hamstring

Spanish Central: Translation of hamstring

Nglish: Translation of hamstring for Spanish Speakers

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 constrict the range or activity of

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