verb (used with object), hemmed, hem·ming.
Origin of hem1
verb (used without object), hemmed, hem·ming.
- to hesitate or falter: She hemmed and hawed a lot before she came to the point.
- to speak noncommittally; avoid giving a direct answer: He hems and haws and comes out on both sides of every question.
Origin of hem2
Related Words for hemmedbeset, border, bound, cage, circle, circumscribe, confine, corral, define, edge, encircle, encompass, envelop, environ, fence, fringe, girdle, immure, margin, pen
Examples from the Web for hemmed
Contemporary Examples of hemmed
On the left, they are hemmed in by the pact of solidarity among self-identified oppressed groups.Rand Paul’s Comments on GOP Voter-ID Laws Mark a Turning Point
May 13, 2014
Hemmed in by college debt and a persistently weak economy, almost 40 percent of the unemployed are between 20 and 34.Are Millennials Turning Their Backs on the American Dream?
November 10, 2013
From the late 1970s until 2009, the non-defense, non-healthcare portions of the federal budget had been hemmed and restricted.David's Bookclub: The New New Deal
December 1, 2012
Scholarly inquiry has been hemmed; free expression constrained; lies taught as truth; unwelcome truths banished from discourse.David Mamet's Right Turn
May 9, 2012
Sounding indecisive, Whitman hemmed and hawed about the different kinds of negative ads.Arnold Swats Whitman
October 27, 2010
Historical Examples of hemmed
Nicholas hemmed once or twice, and seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding.The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby
I tell you he said nothing, but cleared his throat and hemmed, as he does often.Tales And Novels, Volume 8 (of 10)
Wentworth hemmed and tapped on the desk with the end of his lead pencil.A Woman Intervenes
Some, forty feet away was the edge of the forest that hemmed us in.
He hemmed and hawed, and finally had to blurt out that he didn't own the place.Cape Cod Stories
Joseph C. Lincoln
verb hems, hemming or hemmed (tr)
Word Origin for hem
verb hems, hemming or hemmed
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.