1 [ham-lit]

1300–50; Middle English hamelet < Middle French, equivalent to hamel (diminutive of ham < Germanic; see home) + -et -et

1. See community.
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2 [ham-lit]
noun, plural (especially collectively) hamlet (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) hamlets.
any of various sea basses of the family Serranidae, found in the warm waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, especially the Nassau grouper.

1950–55; origin obscure


(italics) a tragedy (first printed 1603) by Shakespeare.
the hero of this play, a young prince who avenges the murder of his father.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
hamlet (ˈhæmlɪt)
1.  a small village or group of houses
2.  (in Britain) a village without its own church
[C14: from Old French hamelet, diminutive of hamel, from ham, of Germanic origin; compare Old English hamm plot of pasture, Low German hamm enclosed land; see home]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from O.Fr. hamelet, dim. of hamel "village," itself a dim. of ham "village," from Frank. *haim (see home). Especially a village without a church.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Hamlet definition

A tragedy by William Shakespeare. The king of Denmark has been murdered by his brother, Claudius, who then becomes king and marries the dead king's widow. The ghost of the dead king visits his son, Prince Hamlet, and urges him to avenge the murder. In the course of the play, Hamlet, a scholar, slowly convinces himself that he must murder Claudius. The play ends with a duel between Hamlet and the courtier Laertes, and the death by poison of all the principal characters.

Note: The character Hamlet has come to symbolize a person whose thoughtful nature is an obstacle to quick and decisive action.
Note: Hamlet, Shakespeare's longest play, contains several soliloquies — speeches in which Hamlet, alone, speaks his thoughts. Many lines from the play are very familiar, such as “Alas, poor Yorick!”; “Frailty, thy name is woman!”; “Get thee to a nunnery”; “The lady doth protest too much”; “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio”; “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”; “There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow”; “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”; andTo be, or not to be: that is the question.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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