Main definitions of hem in US English:

: hem1hem2

hem1

noun

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

    • ‘Nicole pulled out a purple dress enlaced with pearls on the hem and neckline.’
    • ‘Her deep rose silk robe had a square-cut neckline, and it, the cuffs, and the hem were edged in elaborate golden embroidery.’
    • ‘Add design interest to a neckline and sleeve or lower edge hems by using a contrasting fabric for facings.’
    • ‘I sewed the armhole and neckline hems with a scant 1/4" seam; the bottom hem is about l/2".’
    • ‘Top-stitched hems on denim garments tend to curl up to the outside.’
    • ‘He shoved his knife roughly into his pocket, wiped sweat quickly off his face, and tore a piece of cloth off the hem of his tunic.’
    • ‘An overskirt of shimmering gauze bordered at the waist and hem with pearls matched the hems of her long sleeves and modest neckline of her bodice.’
    • ‘The latest collection includes delicate see-through dresses and tops featuring raw hems and ruche detailing.’
    • ‘It was deep scarlet in color, with gold embroidery along the hem and the neckline.’
    • ‘It looked to be made of white silk and the hem and edges were embroidered with iridescent velvet.’
    • ‘Patrik Cox has distinguished himself by the extensive use of rhinestones on stretch trousers, trimming pockets, hems and side seams with bands of glittering stones.’
    • ‘The silhouette here is hourglass, with strong shoulders and hems flaring in sculptural flounces.’
    • ‘It features a left chest patch pocket, a clean front, and a shirttail hem.’
    • ‘I bent down, discreetly holding the hem of my mini dress as down as it would go, and rolled the empty can of paint remover under the car behind me.’
    • ‘The red ruffle detail dress is flirty and fun with frills falling from the hem and shoulder for a ravishing party look.’
    • ‘She got into a pastel pink dress with burgundy accents around the hem and neckline and went to see her father.’
    • ‘Blue panels are stitched around the sleeves and the hem of the dress.’
    • ‘The gown was made of the smoothest painted red silk with a red lace trim on the hem and the neckline, which swooped down low in a prettily way.’
    • ‘I soaked my shirt cuffs and then the hem of my plaid skirt.’
    • ‘Check out these enhanced cargo pants from Zara, made from 100% cotton and featuring giant loops, oversized pockets and elastic hems.’
    edge, edging, border, trim, trimming
    View synonyms

verb

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

    • ‘She hemmed the edges for your white handkerchiefs.’
    • ‘When hemming denim, you can run into some problems when you turn up the seams and find that you have up to 6 thicknesses of fabric to penetrate.’
    • ‘‘Here you go, I even hemmed it for you,’ she said, handing me the ugliest garment I had ever seen.’
    • ‘To cover our buffet table, we bought fabric by the yard and hemmed the ends.’
    • ‘I am only vaguely involved in this year's school production, but I am involved as I spent some time this weekend hemming the ends of tablecloths for it.’
    • ‘After measuring and cutting the canopy and headboard panel, narrowly hem the edges or bind them with coordinating binding strips.’
    • ‘It has a tailored collar with top button loop, hemmed sleeves, matte pearl buttons, a double-layer back yoke with pleats, left chest pocket and a clean-finish hem with side vents.’
    • ‘The sleeves and the bottom of the jacket are hemmed with a narrow band of elasticized fabric.’
    • ‘Then she began hemming it to the ‘proper length’, which was a bit shorter than I was used to but not so short as to give my dad a heart attack.’
    • ‘Moreover, overlocking seams and hemming garments are not necessary because the fabric doesn't fray.’
    • ‘To sew a new patch on a uniform, she charges $2; hemming a pair of slacks costs just $3.’
    • ‘It has a scoop neck, hemmed sleeves, topstitched shoulders, and an even hem bottom.’
    • ‘The easiest hemming method is to zigzag or serge the raw edge and catch-stitch the hem in place, first midway into the hem, then at the hem edge.’
    • ‘Short-sleeve style S500T is double-needle hemmed at the sleeve cuffs and is constructed without a back pleat.’
    • ‘Each was made from a long rectangular piece of cloth, hemmed on each long side to allow a cord to be inserted at the top, and a light plastic plumbing tube at the bottom.’
    • ‘She took a few pins out of her mouth and began hemming the dress she was working on.’
    • ‘Other quick-change options include crocheted doilies, printed tea towels, monogrammed napkins, or hemmed fabric remnants.’
    • ‘Construct the reversible top following the same method as for the jumper - so the lower hemmed edges hang free of each other.’
    • ‘I could also repair some of his duds - hem his trousers, and so on.’
    • ‘And since people are different heights, shouldn't shorts be hemmed so that the shorts appear in proportion to the person's height?’
    edge, put a hem on, border, trim, bind, fringe
    View synonyms
  • 2hem someone/something inSurround and restrict the space or movement of someone or something.

    ‘he was hemmed in by the tables’
    • ‘She said option 4B would hem some residents in, with major roads surrounding them cutting them off from schools and shops, and segregating the communities.’
    • ‘As he and his colleagues are hemmed in by plummeting temperatures in their tiny Scottish weather station, they witness and report on the progress of the chaos spreading across the northern hemisphere.’
    • ‘Shirley is born later, but in her family and community, she finds herself similarly surrounded by cultural codes that hem her in.’
    • ‘More and more life becomes a series of traps where you are hemmed in from all sides.’
    • ‘She tried to shrug, but the close walls hemmed her in, so she just made a face.’
    • ‘After Trafalgar, the Empire was hemmed in and its many enemies began circling their prey.’
    • ‘On the flight up we clung to the Indus gorge as huge peaks hemmed us in.’
    • ‘This sparked outrage among some of the other marchers who jostled with the cordon of officers who had hemmed them in.’
    • ‘Many times, when there is a clear path between point A and B, the designers use artificial fences and trees to hem you in.’
    • ‘Already train operators are hemmed in by high regulatory walls.’
    • ‘The fact the scene was unfolding out of doors, in a public area, with little cover or way of hemming the suspect in, also made the scenario much more difficult to handle, he said.’
    • ‘And you've hemmed your opponents in politically by doing this.’
    • ‘Their captain, Declan Daly, stood on the wall that hems the crowd in, and promised a return with the league trophy.’
    • ‘I know that the two guys were hemmed in by record company restrictions, but this is almost completely mainstream stuff.’
    • ‘All I could see was this cold compartment around me, closing me, hemming me in.’
    • ‘It seemed as if life would offer them everything yet there they were hemming themselves in with this terrible ideology.’
    • ‘An elderly woman was left trapped inside a telephone kiosk in Carlow town when a careless motorist parked right up to the doorway hemming her in.’
    • ‘Now, however, I was quite alone, and hoping to outrun the storm which was beginning to stretch out over the shallowing canyon walls which hemmed me in on either side.’
    • ‘Even when we were queueing to get in we were hemmed in by police at both sides and a happy atmosphere was turned into something completely different.’
    • ‘The result often hems you into a position where you can't see the enemy or as you're moving backward, you suddenly find yourself moving forward into enemy fire.’
    surround, border, edge, encircle, circle, ring, enclose, skirt, flank, fringe, encompass
    restrict, confine, trap, kettle, close in, shut in, hedge in, fence in, pen in, box in, keep within bounds, immure
    View synonyms

Origin

Old English ‘border of a piece of cloth’, of West Germanic origin. The verb senses date from the mid 16th century.

Pronunciation

hem

/hem//hɛm/

Main definitions of hem in US English:

: hem1hem2

hem2

exclamation

  • Used in writing to indicate a sound made when coughing or clearing the throat to attract someone's attention or express hesitation.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Still staying off the sugar and to be honest, the proof will come when, eh hem, that other monthly thing arrives.’
    • ‘In truth I had slept about 3 hours and breakfast had been a pint of Stella — ah hem.’

verb

[no object]archaic
  • Make a sound in the throat when hesitating or as a signal.

    • ‘Ira hems, haws, stamps his feet, clears his throat.’

Phrases

  • hem and haw

    • Hesitate; be indecisive.

      ‘I waste a lot of time hemming and hawing before going into action’
      • ‘So they hem and haw and appear ever so grave and thoughtful.’
      • ‘But he hemmed and hawed for months.’
      • ‘There's no time to hem and haw.’
      • ‘After my son hemmed and hawed awhile, my grandson finally spoke up in disgust.’
      • ‘Be a little of both, say nothing too definite, hem and haw, and split the difference.’
      • ‘However, after a few more minutes of hemming and hawing, his curiosity got the better of him and he unfolded the paper.’
      • ‘The clerk hemmed and hawed, and finally said no.’
      • ‘He hemmed and hawed, but I eventually got him to call the other dealership.’
      • ‘After some hemming and hawing, I bought one.’
      • ‘But even though they were on discount, I hemmed and hawed.’

Origin

Late 15th century: imitative.

Pronunciation

hem

/hem//hɛm/