hem

noun
\ ˈhem How to pronounce hem (audio) \

Definition of hem

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : a border of a cloth article doubled back and stitched down
2 : rim, margin bright green hem of reeds about the ponds— R. M. Lockley

hem

verb (1)
hemmed; hemming

Definition of hem (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

1a : to finish with a hem
b : border, edge
2 : to surround in a restrictive manner : confine usually used with in hemmed in by enemy troops

intransitive verb

: to make a hem in sewing

hem

verb (2)
\ ˈhem How to pronounce hem (audio) \
hemmed; hemming

Definition of hem (Entry 3 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to utter the sound represented by hem hemmed and hawed before answering
2 : equivocate the administration hemmed and hawed over the students' demands
\ usually read as ˈhem How to pronounce hem (audio) \

Definition of hem (Entry 4 of 5)

often used to indicate a vocalized pause in speaking
variants: or hemo-

Definition of hem- (Entry 5 of 5)

: blood hemagglutination hemoflagellate

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Other Words from hem

Verb (1)

hemmer noun

Examples of hem in a Sentence

Noun shorten the hem of the dress the hem of the blouse was gold
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Peep some of our must-haves from the legacy brand below, starting with those split-hem leggings that have a mini kick flare. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "These Cute Workout Clothes Are Perfect for Doing All the Things," 23 Mar. 2021 In terms of fit, these 7-inch shorts are tapered — giving glutes and thighs breathing room while narrowing near the hem. Ambar Pardilla, NBC News, "Best sweat shorts for men and women of 2021, according to experts," 23 Mar. 2021 Frayed detail at the hem adds to the laid back look. Nicola Fumo, Forbes, "40 Of The Best Jeans For Women, In Every Size And Style," 10 Mar. 2021 Split-leg running shorts feature separate panels that overlap on the side hem. Sian Babish, chicagotribune.com, "The best running short for women," 1 Mar. 2021 The ruffle hem on these silk shorts offers a touch of romance. Lauren Caruso, CNN Underscored, "Wanna add a bit of luxury to your slumber? Silk pajamas are the answer," 16 Mar. 2021 Show your knees: The hem of your shorts should reside about an inch or two above your knees. Allen Foster, chicagotribune.com, "The best shorts for men," 23 Feb. 2021 Choose an empire waist maxi dress for an early spring outdoor activity where wind might have the potential to kick up the hem of a shorter dress. Southern Living, "These Empire-Waist Dresses from Amazon Will Convince You To Ditch the Yoga Pants," 19 Feb. 2021 Or consider an adjustable hem, like the one featured in the Tommy Adaptive Straight Fit Jean. Veronika Bondarenko, NBC News, "Adaptive clothing for women and men that is stylish and functional," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even well-meaning parents, like my own, can hem in how girls and women see themselves. Margie Warrell, Forbes, "How Will You #ChooseToChallenge This International Women’s Day?," 27 Feb. 2021 Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith helped hem in the NFL’s highest-scoring team on Sunday night, moving the Green Bay Packers closer to the No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs and a first-round bye to open the postseason. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "State NFL roundup: Za’Darius Smith, Packers sack Titans," 28 Dec. 2020 After the celebration and self-congratulation end, there may be a few fixes to hem in a future leader as openly corrupt as Trump—but not to deal with the larger corruptions his rise presupposed. Samuel Moyn, The New York Review of Books, "How Trump Won," 9 Nov. 2020 San Francisco, a city that’s hemmed in by water on three sides, has been the scene of a multidecade battle over who gets every available square inch. NBC News, "'San Francisco is full': Tech backlash reaches new heights with skyscraper battle," 5 Mar. 2020 The residential cabins at Pan de Vida are on the perimeter of a large, dusty plot, where a makeshift soccer pitch and playground are hemmed in by a border made of rubber tires. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "How the U.S. Asylum System Is Keeping Migrants at Risk in Mexico," 17 Sep. 2019 Williams also hemmed him in at times and Mayfield had some passes batted down. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Freddie Kitchens on Baker Mayfield: ‘He’s taking too many hits’," 17 Sep. 2019 The fault doesn’t wholly lie with Clegg, who as the company’s head of global affairs is no doubt hemmed in by Zuckerberg’s own blinkered vision. Washington Post, "Facebook Isn’t Making Any New Friends In Brussels," 3 Apr. 2019 In North Nashville, a community hemmed in by the Cumberland River and interstate highway, residents came out to help neighbors lay tarps, clear debris and pass out McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches. Washington Post, "In the tornadoes’ aftermath, Tennesseans live up to ‘Volunteer State’ nickname," 6 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even well-meaning parents, like my own, can hem in how girls and women see themselves. Margie Warrell, Forbes, "How Will You #ChooseToChallenge This International Women’s Day?," 27 Feb. 2021 Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith helped hem in the NFL’s highest-scoring team on Sunday night, moving the Green Bay Packers closer to the No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs and a first-round bye to open the postseason. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "State NFL roundup: Za’Darius Smith, Packers sack Titans," 28 Dec. 2020 After the celebration and self-congratulation end, there may be a few fixes to hem in a future leader as openly corrupt as Trump—but not to deal with the larger corruptions his rise presupposed. Samuel Moyn, The New York Review of Books, "How Trump Won," 9 Nov. 2020 Millions of protesters are hunkered down at home, hemmed in by sweeping quarantines and fears for their own health. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "‘This Government Is Lucky’: Coronavirus Quiets Global Protest Movements," 23 Apr. 2020 Millions of protesters are hunkered down at home, hemmed in by sweeping quarantines and fears for their own health. Vivian Wang, BostonGlobe.com, "‘This government is lucky’: Coronavirus quiets global protest movements," 23 Apr. 2020 In North Nashville, a community hemmed in by the Cumberland River and interstate highway, residents came out to help neighbors lay tarps, clear debris and pass out McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches. Washington Post, "In the tornadoes’ aftermath, Tennesseans live up to ‘Volunteer State’ nickname," 6 Mar. 2020 On a recent day, a crew from Precision Lawn removed 5-foot piles hemming in her driveway, so there would be room for the next round of snow. Joe Barrett, WSJ, "Snow Piles Up in Fargo. Not Necessarily Because It Snowed.," 6 Feb. 2020 San Francisco, a city that’s hemmed in by water on three sides, has been the scene of a multidecade battle over who gets every available square inch. NBC News, "'San Francisco is full': Tech backlash reaches new heights with skyscraper battle," 5 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hem.' 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 hem

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Interjection

circa 1525, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hem

Noun

Middle English, from Old English; akin to Middle High German hemmen to hem in, Armenian kamel to press

Interjection

imitative

Combining form

Latin haem-, haemo-, from Greek haim-, haimo-, from haima

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Time Traveler for hem

Time Traveler

The first known use of hem was before the 12th century

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Statistics for hem

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hem. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for hem

hem

noun

English Language Learners Definition of hem

: the edge of a piece of cloth that is folded back and sewn down

hem

noun
\ ˈhem How to pronounce hem (audio) \

Kids Definition of hem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a border of a cloth article made by folding back an edge and sewing it down

hem

verb
hemmed; hemming

Kids Definition of hem (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to finish with or make a hem I hemmed my skirt.
2 : surround sense 1 Our yard is hemmed in by trees.

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More from Merriam-Webster on hem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hem

Nglish: Translation of hem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hem for Arabic Speakers

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