[ ham-ahyt ]

  1. a descendant of Ham. Genesis 10:1, 6–20.

  2. Sometimes Offensive. a member of any of various peoples of northern and eastern Africa, as the ancient Egyptians and modern Berbers, especially those speaking any non-Semitic Afroasiatic language.

Origin of Hamite

First recorded in 1635–45; Ham + -ite1

word story For Hamite

Because of the way it has been used historically in certain racist ideologies, the term Hamite is sometimes offensive.
The Ham in Hamite comes from one of the three sons of Noah in the Bible—Ham, Shem, and Japheth. In the Middle Ages, all the peoples known to Europeans were believed to be descendants of one of these three sons—peoples of Africa from Ham, peoples of the Middle East from Shem, and peoples of Europe from Japheth. This categorization was later used by early European anthropologists to classify people by race.
In some cases, Hamite was used to refer to all African peoples. In the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 9:22-29), Noah condemned Ham's descendants to slavery, and many cited this as justification for the enslavement of Black African people. However, Hamite was also used by some Europeans and European-Americans to refer specifically to North Africans, such as the ancient Egyptians, with whom the Europeans had a perceived cultural bond. This distinction was used as a different justification for racial hierarchies that put Black Africans at the bottom.
The word Hamite is sometimes seen in Biblical scholarship. It is also still found in some older anthropological and linguistic texts. However, widespread neutral usage is rare, as the result of its association with slavery. It continues to be used in arguments promoting racial hierarchies. This usage is offensive.

Words Nearby Hamite

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use Hamite in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Hamite


/ (ˈhæmaɪt) /

  1. a member of a group of peoples of N Africa supposedly descended from Noah's son Ham (Genesis 5:32, 10:6), including the ancient Egyptians, the Berbers, etc

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