Definition of hamstring in US English:



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

    ‘he pulled a hamstring’
    • ‘This exercise strengthens the back extensors, gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and core abdominal muscles.’
    • ‘Your gluteus maximus and hamstrings are powerful hip extensors that are activated whenever you stand, sit or step up.’
    • ‘Poor training routines can contribute to soft tissue injuries such as those to Achilles tendons, hamstrings and calf and adductor muscles.’
    • ‘The lift is actually performed by the leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus) on the way up.’
    • ‘You must squat to build a symmetrical sexy lower body with a balance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings and gluteus maximus.’
    1. 1.1 The 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.’


[with object]
  • 1Cripple (a person or animal) by cutting their hamstrings.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Squall pushed aside the chair that Mathers was trying to hamstring him with.’
    cripple, lame, hock, disable, handicap, injure
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually be hamstrung Severely restrict the efficiency or effectiveness of.
      ‘we were hamstrung by a total lack of knowledge’
      • ‘Is NASA too hamstrung by those restraints to do something as bold as returning to the moon and going to Mars?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This secrecy effectively hamstrings the negotiations of other webcasters and makes it difficult for artists to collect what they are owed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Kangaroos, once hamstrung by the constraints of a reduced salary cap, are chasing hard.’
      • ‘That would give the government a much-needed handle on economic policy-making, which has been hamstrung by opposition obstructionism.’
      • ‘Smith's fearsomely focused narratives and majestically brutal accompaniment are alternately highlighted or hamstrung by perverse and frustrating production decisions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Oh absolutely, he does actually mean well, he's just hamstrung by a severe shortfall in the social skills department.’
      • ‘Encyclicals have long been considered an imperfect genre, hampered by their style and hamstrung by the need to reconcile competing political and bureaucratic factions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Manufacturing has slowed to a trickle, hamstrung by shortages of fuel and imported components.’
      • ‘At first, drug companies were hamstrung by the need for an extensive summary of side effects whenever brand names were mentioned.’
      • ‘But our currency is hamstrung by severe structural distortions in both the economic and financial spheres.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its construction has been hamstrung by numerous delays and corruption scandals.’
      • ‘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
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16th century: from ham + string.