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[klem] /klɛm/
verb (used with or without object), clemmed, clemming. British Dialect.
to starve.
Origin of clem
1530-40; akin to Middle English forclemmed (past participle) pinched with hunger, Old English beclemman to fetter Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for clemmed
Historical Examples
  • When North v. South "clemmed" many a mouth, what patient, patriot spirit, O!

  • But I can't get there; I'm most clemmed with hunger and drought.

    The Water-Babies Charles Kingsley
  • There beant nowheres such a good lad as our Reuben; and to be clemmed to death, and froze!

    Olive Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)
  • Why he'd a clemmed to death, if th' Union had na helped him in his pinch.

    North and South Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • From us—us that he has starved and clemmed this last two months!

    A Safety Match Ian Hay
  • In Yorkshire, "clemmed" means "starved," and "starved" means "perished with cold."

  • They's never be clemmed at ir heawse, as aw ha' si'n folk clemmed i' my time—never, whol aw've a fist a th' end o' my arm!

    Lancashire Sketches Edwin Waugh
British Dictionary definitions for clemmed


verb clems, clemming, clemmed, clams, clamming, clammed
(when transitive, usually passive) (English, dialect) to be hungry or cause to be hungry
Word Origin
C16: of Germanic origin; related to Dutch, German klemmen to pinch, cramp; compare Old English beclemman to shut in
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for clemmed



A fight between show people and the local citizenry: It'd start a clem, with me in the middle


To disperse rioting customers at a circus or carnival (1920s+ Circus & carnival)



A cry used by circus people to rally forces in a fight with townspeople


  1. A small-town resident; rural person, esp one who is easily duped
  2. An inhabitant of the place where the circus is playing (1920s+ Circus)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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