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[ham-per] /ˈhæm pər/
verb (used with object)
to hold back; hinder; impede:
A steady rain hampered the progress of the work.
to interfere with; curtail:
The dancers' movements were hampered by their elaborate costumes.
Nautical. gear that, although necessary to the operations of a vessel, is sometimes in the way.
Origin of hamper1
1300-50; Middle English hampren; akin to Old English hamm “enclosure,” hemm hem1
Related forms
hamperedly, adverb
hamperedness, noun
hamperer, noun
unhampered, adjective
unhampering, adjective
1. obstruct, encumber, trammel, clog.
1. further, encourage, facilitate.
Synonym Study
1. See prevent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hampering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The very number of our assailants was in our favour, by hampering their sword-arms.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • She felt like a child who works its elbows to throw off some hampering annoyance.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham
  • Maggie, whose face was as white now as it had been crimson, clung to him, hampering him.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • You know how hampering it is to one's enthusiasm to have to prepare a bushel of potatoes at once.

    Dear Enemy Jean Webster
  • It is impossible to escape from the hampering influences of our infancy.

    The Beth Book

    Sarah Grand
  • I want that she should be free to live her own life in her own way without me hampering her.

    Old Judge Priest Irvin S. Cobb
  • The presence of his fellow-passengers was not so hampering as in England.

    Aaron's Rod D. H. Lawrence
  • He began to understand that matrimony was hampering his freedom.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes
British Dictionary definitions for hampering


(transitive) to prevent the progress or free movement of
(nautical) gear aboard a vessel that, though essential, is often in the way
Derived Forms
hamperedness, noun
hamperer, noun
Word Origin
C14: of obscure origin; perhaps related to Old English hamm enclosure, hemmhem1


a large basket, usually with a cover
(Brit) such a basket and its contents, usually food
(US) a laundry basket
Word Origin
C14: variant of hanaper
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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Word Origin and History for hampering



late 14c., hampren "to surround, imprison, confine," also "to pack in a container," of unknown origin, possibly from hamper (n.1), or somehow connected to Middle English hamelian "to maim." Related: Hampered; hampering.



"large basket," early 14c., contraction of Anglo-French hanaper (Anglo-Latin hanepario), from Old French hanepier "case for holding a large goblet or cup;" in medical use "skull," also "helmet; armored leather cap," from hanap "goblet," from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old Saxon hnapp "cup, bowl;" Old High German hnapf, German Napf, Old English hnæpp). The word also meant (15c.) "the department of Chancery into which fees were paid for sealing and enrolling charters, etc." The first -a- may be a French attempt to render Germanic hn- into an acceptable Romanic form.



1835, "things important for a ship but in the way at certain times" (Klein's definition), from French hamper "to impede." Hence top hamper, originally "upper masts, spars, rigging, etc. of a sailing ship."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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