From Middle English hamme, from Old English hamm (“inner or hind part of the knee, ham”), from Proto-Germanic *hamō, *hammō, *hanmō, from Proto-Indo-European *kónh₂m (“leg”). Cognate with Dutch ham (“ham”), dialectal German Hamme (“hind part of the knee, ham”), dialectal Swedish ham (“the hind part of the knee”), Icelandic höm (“the ham or haunch of a horse”), Old Irish cnáim (“bone”), Ancient Greek κνήμη (knḗmē, “shinbone”). Compare gammon.
ham (countable and uncountable, plural hams)
- (anatomy) The region back of the knee joint; the popliteal space; the hock.
- (countable) A thigh and buttock of an animal slaughtered for meat.
- (uncountable) Meat from the thigh of a hog cured for food.
- The back of the thigh.
- (Internet, informal, uncommon) Electronic mail that is wanted; mail that is not spam or junk mail.
From Old English hām.
- Obsolete form of home.
Of uncertain origin, though it is generally agreed upon that it first appeared in print around the 1880s. At least four theories persist:
ham (plural hams)
- (acting) an overacting or amateurish performer; an actor with an especially showy or exaggerated style
- (radio) an amateur radio operator
ham (third-person singular simple present hams, present participle hamming, simple past and past participle hammed)
- (acting) To overact; to act with exaggerated emotions.