There are 2 definitions of hem in English:

hem1

Syllabification: hem

noun

  • The edge of a piece of cloth or clothing that has been turned under and sewn.
    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

verb (hems, hemming, hemmed)

[with object] Back to top  
  • 1Turn under and sew the edge of (a piece of cloth or clothing).
    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.
  • 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.

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Word of the day skosh
Pronunciation: skōSH
noun
a small amount; a little

There are 2 definitions of hem in English:

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.
    More 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.
    More example sentences
    • Ira hems, haws, stamps his feet, clears his throat.

Phrases

hem and haw

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

Origin

late 15th century: imitative.

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