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Related to hamming: Hamming code, Hamming distance

be under (someone's) wing

To be protected, tutored, nurtured, or cared for by someone. I was nervous starting an internship at my uncle's company, but it definitely made it easier being under his wing. Our parents died when we were quite young, so my sister and I were under our grandmother's wing for most of our lives.
See also: wing


rude slang An abbreviation for "hard as a motherfucker." Usually used as an intensifier. We lost because the other team went HAM from the opening face-off to the final buzzer—and we sure didn't.

ham something up

Fig. to make a performance seem silly by showing off or exaggerating one's part. (A show-off actor is known as a ham.) Come on, Bob. Don't ham it up! The play was going fine until Bob got out there and hammed up his part.
See also: ham, up

ham it up

to show expressions or emotions more obviously than is realistic Here's a picture of Philip hamming it up for grandma when he was only three.
Usage notes: usually said about expressions made to amuse others
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of ham (an actor who performs with very obvious emotions and expressions)
See also: ham, up


  (British) also ham-handed (American)
1. lacking skill with the hands I hoped you weren't watching my ham-fisted attempts to get the cake out of the tin.
2. lacking skill in the way that you deal with people The report criticizes the ham-fisted way in which complaints are dealt with.

ham up

Exaggerate or overdo, especially with extravagant emotion, as in Hamming up the eulogy was disgraceful, especially since he didn't even know the deceased. It is also put as ham it up, meaning "overact," as in She loves to ham it up in front of the class. This idiom probably alludes to the hamfat (lard) used to remove stage makeup, mentioned in the minstrel song, "The Ham-Fat Man." From this hamfatter came to mean "an inexpert and flamboyant actor," and was in the late 1800s shortened to ham. The idiom here was first recorded in 1933.
See also: ham, up


1. n. an actor; a bad actor. (see also hams.) What a ham! A real showoff.
2. n. an amateur radio operator. (A nickname.) My brother is a ham, and he helped a lot during the emergency.


mod. lacking dexterity; clumsy. If I wasn’t so ham-handed, I could probably fix the thing myself.


1. n. legs; hips. Her great hams extended over the sides of the chair.
2. n. the hamstring muscles. (Bodybuilding.) Can you think of any exercises that would be good for my hams?
See also: ham