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[pahm] /pɑm/
the part of the inner surface of the hand that extends from the wrist to the bases of the fingers.
the corresponding part of the forefoot of an animal.
the part of a glove covering this part of the hand.
Also called sailmaker's palm. a stiff rawhide or metal shield worn over this part of the hand by sailmakers to serve as a thimble.
a linear measure of from 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm), based on the breadth of the hand.
a linear measure of from 7 to 10 inches (17.5 to 25 cm), based on the length of the hand.
the flat, expanded part of the horn or antler of a deer.
a flat, widened part at the end of an armlike projection.
  1. the blade of an oar.
  2. the inner face of an anchor fluke.
  3. (loosely) an anchor fluke.
a flat-topped bearing member at the head of a stanchion.
verb (used with object)
to conceal in the palm, as in cheating at cards or dice or in juggling.
to pick up stealthily.
to hold in the hand.
to impose (something) fraudulently (usually followed by on or upon):
to palm stolen jewels on someone.
to touch or stroke with the palm or hand.
to shake hands with.
Basketball. to grip (the ball) momentarily with the hand in the act of dribbling.
Verb phrases
palm off, to dispose of by deception, trickery, or fraud; substitute (something) with intent to deceive:
Someone had palmed off a forgery on the museum officials.
grease someone's palm, to bribe:
Before any work could begin, it was necessary to grease the superintendent's palm.
Also, cross someone's palm.
Origin of palm1
1300-50; < Latin palma (cognate with Old English folm hand); replacing Middle English paume < Middle French < Latin palma Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for palming
Historical Examples
  • Great skill in palming is necessary for their successful use.

    The Slang Dictionary John Camden Hotten
  • Have this in one of your pockets, where it will not get crushed, ready for palming.

  • The notion then occurred to Rosenbaum of palming off another skull for Haydn's.

    Haydn J. Cuthbert Hadden
  • This seemed to dispose of the theory that he was palming off illegitimate money.

  • He had 169been palming himself off on the youngsters as an unfortunate, out of work, and they had been helping him.

    Roy Blakeley in the Haunted Camp

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • In charity for the Frenchman's taste, I have sometimes thought the vender of these little barkers was palming a quiz upon me.

  • Let us hope, that the catastrophe was not due to any unhandsome attempt at palming off cheap work on "the recording angel."

  • Of all the fictions which he succeeded in palming off for truths none is more instructive than that admirable ghost, Mrs. Veal.

  • palming sometimes refers to secreting money or rings in the hand.

  • You see at last I'm not a suspicious rascal, however, for I don't suspect you of palming a false grand-daughter upon me.'

    The Absentee Maria Edgeworth
British Dictionary definitions for palming


the inner part of the hand from the wrist to the base of the fingers related adjectives thenar volar
a corresponding part in animals, esp apes and monkeys
a linear measure based on the breadth or length of a hand, equal to three to four inches or seven to ten inches respectively
the part of a glove that covers the palm
a hard leather shield worn by sailmakers to protect the palm of the hand
  1. the side of the blade of an oar that faces away from the direction of a boat's movement during a stroke
  2. the face of the fluke of an anchor
a flattened or expanded part of the antlers of certain deer
in the palm of one's hand, at one's mercy or command
verb (transitive)
to conceal in or about the hand, as in sleight-of-hand tricks
to touch or soothe with the palm of the hand
See also palm off
Word Origin
C14 paume, via Old French from Latin palma; compare Old English folm palm of the hand, Greek palamē


any treelike plant of the tropical and subtropical monocotyledonous family Arecaceae (formerly Palmae or Palmaceae), usually having a straight unbranched trunk crowned with large pinnate or palmate leaves
a leaf or branch of any of these trees, a symbol of victory, success, etc
merit or victory
an emblem or insignia representing a leaf or branch worn on certain military decorations
Word Origin
Old English, from Latin palma, from the likeness of its spreading fronds to a hand; see palm1
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 palming



"flat of the hand," c.1300, from Old French palme (Modern French paume), from Latin palma "palm of the hand," also "flat end of an oar; palm tree," from PIE *pel- "to spread out; flat" (cf. Greek palame "open hand," Old Irish lam, Welsh llaw, Old English folm, Old High German folma "hand," Sanskrit panih "hand, hoof"). Palm oil is earlier in the punning sense of "bribe" (1620s) than in the literal sense of "oil from the fruit of the West African palm" (1705, from palm (n.2)).



tropical tree, Old English palma, Old French palme, both from Latin palma "palm tree," originally "palm of the hand;" the tree so called from the shape of its leaves, like fingers of a hand (see palm (n.1)).

The word traveled early to northern Europe, where the tree does not grow, via Christianity, and took root in the local languages (e.g. Old Saxon palma, Old High German palma, Old Norse palmr). Palm Sunday is Old English palm-sunnandæg.

In ancient times, a leaf or frond was carried or worn as a symbol of victory or triumph, or on feast days; hence figurative use of palm for "victory, triumph" (late 14c.). Palm court "large room in a hotel, etc., usually decorated with potted palms" first recorded 1908.



"impose (something) on (someone)," 1670s, from palm (n.1). Extended form palm off is from 1822.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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palming in Medicine

palm (päm)
The inner surface of the hand that extends from the wrist to the base of the fingers.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for palming



To conceal a playing card against the palm in order to use it in a gambling hand: It was five cards that he palmed, three aces and a pair of queens (1673+)

Related Terms

grease someone's palm

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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Idioms and Phrases with palming


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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