Definition of hamstring in English:



  • 1Any of five tendons at the back of a person's knee.

    ‘he pulled a hamstring’
    • ‘You must squat to build a symmetrical sexy lower body with a balance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings and gluteus maximus.’
    • ‘Poor training routines can contribute to soft tissue injuries such as those to Achilles tendons, hamstrings and calf and adductor muscles.’
    • ‘Your gluteus maximus and hamstrings are powerful hip extensors that are activated whenever you stand, sit or step up.’
    • ‘This exercise strengthens the back extensors, gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and core abdominal muscles.’
    • ‘The lift is actually performed by the leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus) on the way up.’
    1. 1.1The great tendon at the back of a quadruped's hock.
      • ‘Do not run down the rear of the leg when nearing the hock as it is easy to cut the hamstring and cause lameness.’
      • ‘They can go to the neck and slice the jugular vein and carotid artery; they can cut the hamstring above the hock; they can cut the band on top of the neck.’


  • 1 Cripple (a person or animal) by cutting their hamstrings.

    • ‘Squall pushed aside the chair that Mathers was trying to hamstring him with.’
    • ‘He hammered the remnants of his blade into the chest of the one who shattered it, and jumped to avoid a swipe that would have hamstrung him.’
    cripple, lame, hock, disable, handicap, injure
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Severely restrict the efficiency or effectiveness of.
      ‘we were hamstrung by a total lack of knowledge’
      • ‘The Kangaroos, once hamstrung by the constraints of a reduced salary cap, are chasing hard.’
      • ‘Manufacturing has slowed to a trickle, hamstrung by shortages of fuel and imported components.’
      • ‘Oh absolutely, he does actually mean well, he's just hamstrung by a severe shortfall in the social skills department.’
      • ‘Needing a decision from every member before any action can be taken hamstrings the leadership, slows action to a standstill, and ends up watering down the activism to the lowest common denominator.’
      • ‘More familiar, but less important, were the internal squabbles and petty jealousies among civil rights leaders that hindered, but never hamstrung, the movement for justice.’
      • ‘It is false to suggest the Act is delaying the process or that development is hamstrung.’
      • ‘His ability to bring reform to Brazil will be hamstrung by budget restrictions’
      • ‘In fact, members of the medical advisory board will be severely hamstrung unless the company is prepared to provide them with certain marketing materials.’
      • ‘Its construction has been hamstrung by numerous delays and corruption scandals.’
      • ‘Determined terrorists have become adept at forging EU passports at precisely the time that the agency charged with blocking their entry is hamstrung by a lack of personnel.’
      • ‘But our currency is hamstrung by severe structural distortions in both the economic and financial spheres.’
      • ‘Encyclicals have long been considered an imperfect genre, hampered by their style and hamstrung by the need to reconcile competing political and bureaucratic factions.’
      • ‘That would give the government a much-needed handle on economic policy-making, which has been hamstrung by opposition obstructionism.’
      • ‘The impact of reform will be slow and it is hamstrung by being unable to aggressively reflate its economy by the euro's self-defeating rules so clearly in need of change.’
      • ‘Smith's fearsomely focused narratives and majestically brutal accompaniment are alternately highlighted or hamstrung by perverse and frustrating production decisions.’
      • ‘However, the Medical Council feels it is hamstrung by 20-year-old legislation which restricts it from expanding the council to cope with its heavy workload.’
      • ‘This secrecy effectively hamstrings the negotiations of other webcasters and makes it difficult for artists to collect what they are owed.’
      • ‘At first, drug companies were hamstrung by the need for an extensive summary of side effects whenever brand names were mentioned.’
      • ‘Is NASA too hamstrung by those restraints to do something as bold as returning to the moon and going to Mars?’
      • ‘Once the strike began, television was already flooded with a backlog of commercials, virtually hamstringing the cause by making its effect invisible.’
      handicap, constrain, restrict, cripple, shackle, fetter, encumber, block, frustrate, cramp, bridle
      View synonyms


16th century: from ham + string.