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

Show Your Shirttails The classic button-down looks fresh when peeping below the hem of a mini or through the slit of a skirt. Vogue, "12 Styling Tips to Try Now—Inspired by Fall Street Style," 28 Mar. 2019 Blue mom jeans and a white tshirt with a small bolognese stain on the hem? Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "The Item I Wear to Death: My ASOS Oversized Leather Jacket," 6 Mar. 2019 Below his throne is an eagle, symbol of Jupiter, touched by the hem of Augustus’ garment. Judith H. Dobrzynski, WSJ, "A Man Among Gods," 21 Sep. 2018 Cuffing his hems added the perfect touch to his easy-going look. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Victoria and David Beckham Look Uber Stylish For a Double Date with son Brooklyn Beckham in New York," 25 Jan. 2019 But the dress’s kicker is its asymmetrical hem, which features a jagged piece of pin-striped fabric. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Blake Lively Wears Monse Deconstructed Jacket Dress," 12 Jan. 2019 And make sure your pant hem has little to no break at the ankle. Megan Gustashaw, GQ, "The Rock Knows How to Dress If You Never Skip Bicep Day," 4 Apr. 2018 Fold the collar all the way back to the bottom hem of the shirt, creating a small rectangle shape. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Here's How to Fold a Dress Shirt, Because Sometimes You Have To," 11 Feb. 2019 Meanwhile, Pippa's included a few extra details, including a pointed collar, buttons down the center of the dress, and a layer of pleats from the hips to the hem. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pippa Middleton Channeled the Outfit Kate Wore To Her Wedding," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Despite the weekly bump higher, the total remains hemmed inside a rather tight, four-month-old range between 858 and 869. Christopher Alessi, WSJ, "Oil Prices Rebound on Strong Global Demand," 14 Sep. 2018 Photo: Ian Vogler/WPA Pool/Getty Images Related Mrs. May’s laying out of her red lines in a speech in October 2016 is widely viewed as one of her original sins, hemming in the U.K.’s negotiating position in the subsequent two years. Max Colchester, WSJ, "Simple but Undefined Brexit Question Leads to Reckoning for U.K.’s May," 16 Nov. 2018 The Galveston County Sheriff, Henry Trochesset, said the officers hemmed the gunman into one classroom and saved lives by drawing his attention and fire. New York Times, "Police Confronted Texas School Gunman Within 4 Minutes, Sheriff Says," 21 May 2018 Her makeup is expertly applied, but somehow seems looser; the pigments aren't hemmed in by the keen-edged eyeliner and lip liner that midcentury fashions demanded. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Marin Hinkle On the Scene That Gave Her Hives," 8 Dec. 2018 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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Reid hemmed and hawed about what grout color to use in the kitchen. Amanda Sims, House Beautiful, "11 Truly Surprising Ways to Use Color," 11 Mar. 2019 The allegation hems close to what previous Trump accusers have detailed. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Another Woman Has Accused Donald Trump of Sexual Misconduct," 25 Feb. 2019 Health-care data released for public use are also closely hemmed in. J.j. Plecs And John H. Cochrane, WSJ, "Imagine What We Could Cure," 25 Nov. 2018 Photo: Ian Vogler/WPA Pool/Getty Images Related Mrs. May’s laying out of her red lines in a speech in October 2016 is widely viewed as one of her original sins, hemming in the U.K.’s negotiating position in the subsequent two years. Max Colchester, WSJ, "Simple but Undefined Brexit Question Leads to Reckoning for U.K.’s May," 16 Nov. 2018 That was meant to deliver leaders hemmed in by checks and balances. Stephen Fidler, WSJ, "Brexit Upends British Political System," 10 Dec. 2018 Nearly 2 million Palestinians are trapped in the Gaza Strip, hemmed in by restrictions on travel and commerce imposed by Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to pressure the militant Hamas group, which rules the territory. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Gazans have survived years of war. Now depression is killing them.," 20 June 2018 Despite the weekly bump higher, the total remains hemmed inside a rather tight, four-month-old range between 858 and 869. Christopher Alessi, WSJ, "Oil Prices Rebound on Strong Global Demand," 14 Sep. 2018 Her makeup is expertly applied, but somehow seems looser; the pigments aren't hemmed in by the keen-edged eyeliner and lip liner that midcentury fashions demanded. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Marin Hinkle On the Scene That Gave Her Hives," 8 Dec. 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

helvite

Helxine

helzel

hem

hem-

hema-

hemachate

Statistics for hem

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

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 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

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

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