hem

noun
\ˈhem \

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 \
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 \

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

Mother Monster wore platform heels to keep the front hem of her dress from touching the ground, but her train dragged gloriously on the carpet. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga Wears a Stunning Silver Givenchy Couture Dress at the A Star Is Born Premiere," 25 Sep. 2018 Part of the appeal, no doubt, is that with nary a V-neck or above-the-knee hem, Batsheva is very in sync with today’s modest dressing. Amanda Fitzsimons, Glamour, "Batsheva Hay Is Redefining Sexy—With Prairie Dresses," 2 Aug. 2018 The resulting protrusions form a curving, translucent silhouette at the hem and sleeves. Susan Delson, WSJ, "Kimonos Meet Couture," 12 Oct. 2018 Naturally the younger Hadid marched to her own beat in a tangerine version that was cut with a fashion-forward cowl-neck and asymmetric hem. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Bella Hadid Brings Back This Cozy Street Style Favorite for Fall," 9 Oct. 2018 Featuring a bow-tie front, ruffled trim and a fringy hem, the top is the perfect combination of romantic and rocker chic. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Millie Bobby Brown Wears Denim Madewell Top on Instagram," 6 Oct. 2018 For the occasion, Kate Middleton chose a simple white Alexander McQueen dress with puffed sleeves and midi-length hem, along with a coordinating headband adorned with flowers. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears McQueen Again for Third Christening," 9 July 2018 Moss’s top was replete with eye-catching details: note the bow closure at the waist and pleated hem. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kate Moss Knows Just How to Style the Fancy Going-Out Top," 13 June 2018 Online, the jumpsuit's description reveals that the item is fully waterproof, has a hem that's a little longer in the back to stop it from riding up, and comes in a relaxed fit. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "ASOS Is Selling a Rainproof Jumpsuit Designed for People Who Use Wheelchairs," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Either way, many thank goodnesses that Kate was able to hem-check! Sally Holmes, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Avoided a Wardrobe Malfunction at Princess Eugenie's Wedding," 12 Oct. 2018 The whale-thing was still chugging along behind him, hemming him in. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex," 8 July 2018 According to Pembleton, Goodman had hemmed and hawed about calling 911. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Too Much Horsepower," 24 Dec. 2012 They have been hemmed in by Israeli and Egyptian blockades since 2007, when Hamas, a militant Islamist group, took control of Gaza. The Economist, "Deadly protests on Gaza’s border with Israel," 17 May 2018 There aren’t many false notes, but the imaginative scope is somewhat hemmed in by scenes that loiter rather than leap. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Review: Amanda Peet's 'Our Very Own Carlin McCullough': A tennis prodigy learns life's score," 29 June 2018 Follett eventually married fellow adventurer Nick Rogers but ended up living a hemmed-in existence of working a secretarial job in Boston. S. Kirk Walsh, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘The Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of Wanderlust,’ by Laura Smith," 22 Mar. 2018 The Army wants to keep Arlington going for at least another 150 years, but with no room to grow — the grounds are hemmed in by highways and development — the only way to do so is to significantly tighten the rules for who can be buried there. New York Times, "Arlington Cemetery, Nearly Full, May Become More Exclusive," 28 May 2018 Breaking from the rail in the Belmont will force Justify to jump out quickly in order to be in a spot where rivals won’t be able to hem him in, said Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert. Jim Chairusmi, WSJ, "Justify’s Triple Crown Hopes Come Down to the Start," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to Pembleton, Goodman had hemmed and hawed about calling 911. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Too Much Horsepower," 24 Dec. 2012 Gustavus is about 20 minutes from Juneau by air — a four-to-six-hour-long ferry also runs twice weekly in summer — yet because it is hemmed in on all sides by snowy mountains, feels a million miles from anywhere. Mark Adams, New York Times, "A D.I.Y. Trip Through Alaska’s Inside Passage," 21 May 2018 Either way, many thank goodnesses that Kate was able to hem-check! Sally Holmes, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Avoided a Wardrobe Malfunction at Princess Eugenie's Wedding," 12 Oct. 2018 The 40-mile-wide corridor is hemmed in by the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on one side and Belarus, a Russian ally, on the other. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "How U.S. troops could get stuck in a traffic jam on their way to fend off war with Russia," 24 June 2018 One senior administration official who often sat in the backbenches of those meetings last week described Mr. Trump’s growing frustration at being hemmed in by his two principal national security cabinet members. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Under Pompeo, a Foreign Policy That Fits the President’s Worldview," 13 Mar. 2018 Gustavus is about 20 minutes from Juneau by air — a four-to-six-hour ferry ride is also offered twice weekly in summer — yet, because it is hemmed in by snowy mountains, feels a million miles from anywhere. Anchorage Daily News, "A DIY trip through Alaska’s Inside Passage," 26 May 2018 Cheung said the two sides are hemmed in by mutual distrust. David Pierson, latimes.com, "Facebook's tie-up with Chinese smartphone giant Huawei makes a bad situation worse," 6 June 2018 Life in the camp is also hemmed in by its own oppressive rules. Deirdre Fernandes, BostonGlobe.com, "An education in hope," 7 July 2018

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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Learn More about hem

Dictionary Entries near hem

Helxine

helzel

hem-

hem

hema-

hemachate

hemacytometer

Statistics for hem

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hem

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

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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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hem

Spanish Central: Translation of hem

Nglish: Translation of hem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hem for Arabic Speakers

Comments on hem

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