[ ham-per ]
/ ˈhæm pər /
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See synonyms for: hamper / hampered / hampering on Thesaurus.com

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.
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Origin of hamper

1300–50; Middle English hampren; akin to Old English hamm “enclosure,” hemm hem1

synonym study for hamper

1. See prevent.


Other definitions for hamper (2 of 2)

[ ham-per ]
/ ˈhæm pər /

a large basket or wickerwork receptacle, usually with a cover: picnic hamper; clothes hamper.
British. such a basket together with its contents, especially food.

Origin of hamper

1350–1400; Middle English hampere, variant of hanyperehanaper
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does hamper mean?

To hamper means to hold back or impede something or someone, as in The road crew hampered traffic, causing a line of cars that went back for miles.

Figuratively, hamper can mean to interfere with or diminish, as in The singers practicing in the next room really hampered my ability to study.

Related to this in nautical terms, a hamper is gear that is necessary but gets in the way.

There is another sense of the noun hamper that comes from a different origin. This hamper is a large basket, often made of wicker (or something that looks like wicker) and having a cover. Most often, this type of hamper is associated with dirty clothes (a laundry or clothes hamper), but there are lots of things a hamper can hold, like a picnic lunch or small toys.

Example: I hope this rain doesn’t end up hampering the party at all.

Where does hamper come from?

The first records of the verb hamper come from the early 1300s. It comes from the Middle English hampren, which may have come from the Old English hamm, meaning “enclosure.” The first records of the noun hamper meaning “basket” come from the late 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Old French hanapier, meaning “to hold a drinking vessel.”

In the UK, a hamper can refer to not just the basket but also its contents, especially when it’s food. If your cousin sends you a hamper for your birthday, expect it to have lots of delicious treats in it—rather than their dirty laundry.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to hamper?

  • hamperedly (adverb)
  • hamperedness (noun)
  • hamperer (noun)
  • unhampered (adjective)

What are some synonyms for hamper?

What are some words that share a root or word element with hamper

What are some words that often get used in discussing hamper?

How is hamper used in real life?

Hamper is used equally to mean “to hinder” and “a large basket.”



Try using hamper!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for hamper?

A. block
B. hinder
C. impede
D. aid

How to use hamper in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hamper (1 of 2)

/ (ˈhæmpə) /

(tr) to prevent the progress or free movement of
nautical gear aboard a vessel that, though essential, is often in the way

Derived forms of hamper

hamperedness, nounhamperer, noun

Word Origin for hamper

C14: of obscure origin; perhaps related to Old English hamm enclosure, hemm hem 1

British Dictionary definitions for hamper (2 of 2)

/ (ˈhæmpə) /

a large basket, usually with a cover
British such a basket and its contents, usually food
US a laundry basket

Word Origin for hamper

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