There are 2 main definitions of hem in English:

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hem1

Syllabification: hem

noun

The edge of a piece of cloth or clothing that has been turned under and sewn.
Example sentences
  • Top-stitched hems on denim garments tend to curl up to the outside.
  • I sewed the armhole and neckline hems with a scant 1/4" seam; the bottom hem is about l/2".
  • It features a left chest patch pocket, a clean front, and a shirttail hem.
Synonyms
edge, edging, border, trim, trimming

verb (hems, hemming, hemmed)

[with object] Back to top  
1Turn under and sew the edge of (a piece of cloth or clothing).
Example sentences
  • Moreover, overlocking seams and hemming garments are not necessary because the fabric doesn't fray.
  • Construct the reversible top following the same method as for the jumper - so the lower hemmed edges hang free of each other.
  • After measuring and cutting the canopy and headboard panel, narrowly hem the edges or bind them with coordinating binding strips.
2 (hem someone/something in, usually be hemmed in) Surround and restrict the space or movement of: he was hemmed in by the tables
More example sentences
  • She tried to shrug, but the close walls hemmed her in, so she just made a face.
  • I know that the two guys were hemmed in by record company restrictions, but this is almost completely mainstream stuff.
  • Already train operators are hemmed in by high regulatory walls.

Origin

Old English, 'the border of a piece of cloth'. The verb senses date from the mid 16th century.

Words that rhyme with hem

ahem, Belém, Clem, condemn, contemn, crème de la crème, em, gem, Jem, LibDem, phlegm, pro tem, rem, Shem, stem, them

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There are 2 main definitions of hem in English:

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hem2

Syllabification: hem

exclamation

Used in writing to indicate a sound made when coughing or clearing the throat to attract someone’s attention or express hesitation.
Example sentences
  • In truth I had slept about 3 hours and breakfast had been a pint of Stella — ah hem.
  • Still staying off the sugar and to be honest, the proof will come when, eh hem, that other monthly thing arrives.
  • Wang apparently forgot to ask about the keys for the machine when he purchased it for the, uh hem, bargain price of $75 off a man in East Harlem.

verb (hems, hemming, hemmed)

[no object] archaic Back to top  
Make a sound in the throat when hesitating or as a signal.
Example sentences
  • Ira hems, haws, stamps his feet, clears his throat.

Origin

late 15th century: imitative.

Phrases

hem and haw

1
North American Hesitate; be indecisive: I waste a lot of time hemming and hawing before going into action
More example sentences
  • But even though they were on discount, I hemmed and hawed.
  • However, after a few more minutes of hemming and hawing, his curiosity got the better of him and he unfolded the paper.
  • After my son hemmed and hawed awhile, my grandson finally spoke up in disgust.
Synonyms

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