There are 2 main definitions of hem in English:

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hem1

Line breaks: hem
Pronunciation: /hɛm
 
/

noun

The edge of a piece of cloth or clothing which has been turned under and sewn: the hem of her dress she took up the hem
More 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;
fringe, frill, flounce, valance

verb (hems, hemming, hemmed)

[with object] Back to top  
1Turn under and sew the edge of (a piece of cloth): she began to hem a border
More 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.
Synonyms
2 (hem someone/thing in) Surround and restrict the space or movement of someone or something: 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.
Synonyms
literary gird, girdle, engird
restrict, confine, trap, kettle, close in, shut in, hedge in, fence in, pen in, box in, keep within bounds, immure;
constrain, restrain, limit, circumscribe, curb, check;
North American corral
rare compass

Origin

Old English 'border of a piece of cloth', of West Germanic origin. 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

Definition of hem in:

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There are 2 main definitions of hem in English:

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hem2

Line breaks: hem
Pronunciation: /həm
 
, hɛm
 
/

exclamation

Used in writing to indicate a sound made when coughing or clearing the throat to attract attention or to 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: Jane, if any one is about, come to the foot of the stairs and hem
More example sentences
  • Ira hems, haws, stamps his feet, clears his throat.

Origin

late 15th century: imitative.

Phrases

hem and haw

1
North American term for hum and haw (see hum1).
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.

Definition of hem in:

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