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1. To surround someone or something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "hem" and "in." The police have hemmed in the burglars so that they can't escape from this area. It's very disappointing that towering mansions now completely hem in my little home.
2. To limit what someone or something can do. A noun or pronoun can be used between "hem" and "in." The terms of this contract really have me hemmed in—even my lawyer can't see a way out.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
hem someone or something in
Fig. to trap or enclose someone or something. The large city buildings hem me in. Don't hem in the bird. Let it have a way to escape.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To surround and enclose someone or something: Tall mountains hemmed in the valley. The troops hemmed their enemy in on all sides.
2. To restrict or confine someone or something: Don't hem me in with all these regulations. The police hemmed in the rowdy crowd.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.