AskDefine | Define hem

Dictionary Definition

hem n : lap that forms a cloth border doubled back and stitched down


1 fold over and sew together to provide with a hem; "hem my skirt"
2 utter `hem' or `ahem' [also: hemming, hemmed]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

A sound uttered in imitation of clearing the throat


rfc-level check placement of Pronunciation


  1. Used to fill in the gap of a pause with a vocalized sound.


  1. Someone who is afraid of change to the point of total inaction. (From a book by Spencer Johnson, M.D., Who moved my cheese, about a character who was always against change.)

See also

Etymology 2

From Middle English in turn from Old English and related to Middle High German hemmen meaning "to hem in".


  1. The border of an article of clothing doubled back and stitched together.
  2. A rim or margin of something.
border of an article of clothing doubled back and stitched together


  1. (in sewing) To make a hem.
  2. (in speaking) To make a sound like hem (usually coupled with "haw" as in "hemmed and hawwed.")
  3. : To put hem on an article of clothing, to edge or put a border on something.
  4. : To surround something or someone in a confining way.
To put hem on an article of clothing
To surround something or someone in a confining way

Related terms



  1. Third-person singular, masculine, objective: him.
    Stuur dat maar naar hem. — Send that to him.



  1. eh?, well well! (expressing surprise)

Related terms




  1. home; one's dwelling place, as in a house or a more general geographical place; the abiding place of the affections.


  1. to one's home



From Persian



Extensive Definition

To hem a piece of cloth (in sewing), a garment worker folds up a cut edge, folds it up again, and then sews it down. The process of hemming thus completely encloses the cut edge in cloth, so that it cannot ravel.
A hem is also the edge of cloth treated in this manner.
The hem may be sewn down with a line of invisible hem-stitch or blind-stitch or sewn down by a sewing machine, usually leaving a visible line of sewing. Modern sewing machines can make many decorative or functional stitches, so the number of possible hem treatments is large. Machines can also sew a reasonable facsimile of a hem-stitch, though the stitches will usually be larger and more visible. Most haute couture hems are sewn by hand for this reason.
Heavy material with deep hems may be hemmed with what is called a dress-maker's hem — an extra line of loose running stitch is added in the middle of the hem, so that all the weight of the cloth does not hang from one line of stitching.
The term hem is also extended to other cloth treatments that prevent raveling. Hems can be serged (see serger), hand rolled and then sewn down with tiny stitches (still seen as a high-class finish to handkerchiefs), pinked with pinking shears, piped, covered with binding (this is known as a Hong Kong finish), or made with many other inventive treatments. there are many types of hemming.

Hem Repair

Hem repair tape is available as an alternative solution to sewing a broken hem. This is especially useful for the hems on men's trousers, which is particularly prone to damage. To effect a fix, the hem repair tape is laid around the inside of the hem. It is then ironed with a steam iron. The water causes the tape to bond the two surfaces together.
hem in Esperanto: Orlo

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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