hem and haw

Definition of hem and haw

chiefly US, informal
1 :to stop often and change what one is saying during speech because one is not sure of what to say or because one is trying to avoid saying something
  • The question surprised her and she hemmed and hawed a bit before answering.
2 :to take a long time before making a decision about what to do
  • The city council hemmed and hawed for a year before deciding to build the new school.

Word by Word Definitions

hem play
  1. : a border of a cloth article doubled back and stitched down

  2. : rim, margin

  1. : to finish with a hem

  2. : border, edge

  3. : to surround in a restrictive manner : confine

  1. : to utter the sound represented by hem

  2. : equivocate

  1. often used to indicate a vocalized pause in speaking

  1. : blood

haw play
  1. : a hawthorn berry

  2. : hawthorn

  1. : nictitating membrane

  1. often used to indicate a vocalized pause in speaking

  1. : to utter the sound represented by haw

  2. : equivocate

  1. — compare gee

  2. : to turn to the near or left side


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