1 [klam]
any of various bivalve mollusks, especially certain edible species. Compare quahog, soft-shell clam.
Informal. a secretive or silent person.
Slang. a dollar or the sum of a dollar: I only made 60 clams a week.
verb (used without object), clammed, clamming.
to gather or dig clams.
Verb phrases
clam up, Slang. to refuse to talk or reply; refrain from talking or divulging information: The teacher asked who had thrown the eraser, but the class clammed up.

1585–95; short for clam-shell, i.e., bivalve with a shell that clamps. See clam2, shell

clamlike, adjective
clammer, noun Unabridged


2 [klam]
British Dialect, clamp1 ( defs 1–3 ).
Machinery. (formerly) pincers.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English, derivative of clamm fetter, grasp; cognate with German Klamm fetter; akin to clamp Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To clam
World English Dictionary
clam1 (klæm)
1.  any of various burrowing bivalve molluscs of the genera Mya, Venus, etc. Many species, such as the quahog and soft-shell clam, are edible and Tridacna gigas is the largest known bivalve, nearly 1.5 metres long
2.  the edible flesh of such a mollusc
3.  informal a reticent person
vb , clams, clamming, clammed
4.  chiefly (US) (intr) to gather clams
[C16: from earlier clamshell, that is, shell that clamps; related to Old English clamm fetter, Old High German klamma constriction; see clamp1]

clam2 (klæm)
vb , clams, clamming, clammed
a variant of clem

clem or clam (klɛm)
vb , clems, clemming, clemmed, clams, clamming, clammed
dialect (English) (when tr, usually passive) to be hungry or cause to be hungry
[C16: of Germanic origin; related to Dutch, German klemmen to pinch, cramp; compare Old English beclemman to shut in]
clam or clam
[C16: of Germanic origin; related to Dutch, German klemmen to pinch, cramp; compare Old English beclemman to shut in]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1500, "bivalve mollusk," originally Scottish, from M.E. clam "pincers, vice, clamp," from O.E. clamm "bond, fetter," from P.Gmc. *klam-. Clambake is from 1835. Clam up is 1916, Amer.Eng., but clam was used in this sense as an interjection c.1350.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary

CLAM definition

mathematics, tool
A system for symbolic mathematics, especially General Relativity. It was first implemented in ATLAS assembly language and later Lisp.
See also ALAM.
["CLAM Programmer's Manual", Ray d'Inverno & Russell-Clark, King's College London, 1971].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with clam, also see happy as the day is long (as a clam).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly
  snared from the ocean floor.
But all this may soon change, as condos and coffee shops replace the clam bars
  and ghost trains on the valuable beachside sites.
The leaders of each side seem to be behaving in a remarkably civilized and clam
She is happy as a clam to go each day, and talks about it in the evening.
Images for clam
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature