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

Prado hasn’t played in the major leagues since injuring his hamstring on May 25. Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Pair of Marlins land on disabled list as others eye Washington return," 4 July 2018 Shortstop Chris Taylor returned to the lineup after being limited by a sore left hamstring to a pinch-hitting for seven games. Mike Digiovanna, latimes.com, "Loss of Josh Fields throws off Dodgers' bullpen," 29 June 2018 Buy Photo Swollen heel, sore hamstring; no problem. Aaron Carter, Philly.com, "Strath Haven's Dayo Abeeb wins District 1 triple jump title," 18 May 2018 Gardenhire also said that center fielder Leonys Martin is dealing with a sore hamstring. George Sipple, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' Cabrera (biceps), Martin (hamstring) sits vs. Rays," 30 Apr. 2018 CF Leonys Martin was out of the lineup with a sore hamstring but pinch ran in the ninth inning. ... Dave Hogg, OrlandoSentinel.com, "C.J. Cron, Brad Miller homer in ninth to lift Rays over Tigers 3-2," 30 Apr. 2018 Late in the second quarter of Saturday's game, Jaylen Brown, the team's leading scorer in the series, left the game for good with a sore right hamstring. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Celtics 112, Bucks 96: Season ends with a whimper," 28 Apr. 2018 Media: Wibbitz Rockets guard Chris Paul, who is considered probable to return from a sore hamstring, had missed the Rockets’ past three games. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets' James Harden, Clint Capela held out vs. Bulls for rest," 26 Mar. 2018 Martin Prado’s on-base plus slugging percentage in the eight games since returning from a strained right hamstring. Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "A Closer Look: Miami Marlins 2, Philadelphia Phillies 0," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Very, very few presidents have the controversy and turnover that have hamstrung Trump's Cabinet. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "5 things we learned from the Ronny Jackson debacle," 26 Apr. 2018 Steve DiCicco said he was hamstrung from the start because the VA will speak only to the veteran about his or her case. Brian Macquarrie, BostonGlobe.com, "For these veterans, dealing with VA has been a relentless fight," 24 Mar. 2018 The gap that Coco fills Most films released on 4K HDR Blu-ray are hamstrung by the limitations of film stock. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Coco isn’t just a must-own 4K/HDR film—it’s a bright sign of the format’s future," 26 Feb. 2018 Majette was hamstrung by injuries, and similar problems along the offensive line harmed all efforts here. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: IU football has plenty of holes to fill in 2018," 7 Jan. 2018 This tension between helping smokers while minimizing harm to public health is a big reason why health and regulatory agencies have been hamstrung over how to regulate products like Juul. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Juul, the vape device teens are getting hooked on, explained," 18 May 2018 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

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

13 Nov 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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