verb (used with object), hemmed, hem·ming.
to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc.); form an edge or border on or around.
to enclose or confine (usually followed by in, around, or about): hemmed in by enemies.
an edge made by folding back the margin of cloth and sewing it down.
the edge or border of a garment, drape, etc., especially at the bottom.
the edge, border, or margin of anything.
Architecture. the raised edge forming the volute of an Ionic capital.
Origin of hem1
before 1000; Middle English hem(m
), Old English hem,
probably akin to hamm
enclosure; see home
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Related Words for hem inhinder
British Dictionary definitions for hem in
an edge to a piece of cloth, made by folding the raw edge under and stitching it down
verb hems, hemming or hemmed (tr)
to provide with a hem
(usually foll by in, around, or about) to enclose or confine
Word Origin for hem
Old English hemm; related to Old Frisian hemme enclosed land
a representation of the sound of clearing the throat, used to gain attention, express hesitation, etc
verb hems, hemming or hemmed
(intr) to utter this sound
hem and haw or hum and haw to hesitate in speaking or in making a decision
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for hem in
late 14c., "to provide (something) with a border or fringe" (surname Hemmer attested from c.1300), from hem (n.). Related: Hemmed; hemming. The phrase hem in "shut in, confine," first recorded 1530s.
Old English hem "a border," especially of cloth or a garment, from Proto-Germanic *hamjam (cf. Old Norse hemja "to bridle, curb," Swedish hämma "to stop, restrain," Old Frisian hemma "to hinder," Middle Dutch, German hemmen "to hem in, stop, hinder"), from PIE *kem- "to compress." Apparently the same root yielded Old English hamm, common in place names (where it means "enclosure, land hemmed in by water or high ground, land in a river bend"). In Middle English, hem also was a symbol of pride or ostentation.
If þei wer þe first þat schuld puplysch þese grete myracles of her mayster, men myth sey of hem, as Crist ded of þe Pharisees, þat þei magnified her owne hemmys. [John Capgrave, "Life of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham," 1451]
late 15c., probably imitative of the sound of clearing the throat. Hem and haw first recorded 1786, from haw "hesitation" (1630s; see haw (v.)); hem and hawk attested from 1570s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with hem in
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
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