Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"meat of a hog's hind leg used for food," 1630s, from Old English hamm "hollow or bend of the knee," from Proto-Germanic *hamma- (cf. Old Norse höm, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch hamme, Old High German hamma), from PIE *konemo- "shin bone" (cf. Greek kneme "calf of the leg," Old Irish cnaim "bone"). Ham-fisted (1928) was originally in reference to pilots who were heavy on the controls, as was ham-handed (by 1918). With hammen ifalden "with folded hams" was a Middle English way of saying "kneeling."
"overacting inferior performer," 1882, American English, apparently a shortening of hamfatter (1880) "actor of low grade," said since at least 1889 to be from an old minstrel show song, "The Ham-fat Man" (1863). The song, a black-face number, has nothing to do with acting, so the connection must be with the quality of acting in minstrel shows, where the song was popular. Ham also had a sports slang sense of "incompetent pugilist" circa 1888, perhaps from ham-fisted. The notion of "amateurish" led to the sense of "amateur radio operator" (1919). The verb in the performance sense is first recorded 1933. As an adjective in this sense by 1935.
One of the three sons of Noah. According to the biblical account, Noah and his family were the only human survivors of the great Flood and were therefore the progenitors of all the peoples on Earth.
Note: Egypt was traditionally called “the Land of Ham,” and Ham was considered to be the ancestor of the Egyptians and of all African peoples south of Egypt.
Note: The “curse of Ham” refers to the biblical story in which Ham, seeing his father drunk and naked, refused to turn away as his two brothers did. When Noah awoke, he cursed Ham and his son Canaan, supposedly causing a darker pigmentation in their descendants. This so-called curse has often been wrongly used to justify racism.
To make histrionic; overexpress; ham: The baseball umpire was hamming up his signals for the benefit of the television audience (1929+)
: a ham radio operator/ ham networknoun
An amateur radio operator
[1928+; fr amateur]
: ham actor/ ham performancenoun
warm, hot, and hence the south; also an Egyptian word meaning "black", the youngest son of Noah (Gen. 5:32; comp. 9:22,24). The curse pronounced by Noah against Ham, properly against Canaan his fourth son, was accomplished when the Jews subsequently exterminated the Canaanites. One of the most important facts recorded in Gen. 10 is the foundation of the earliest monarchy in Babylonia by Nimrod the grandson of Ham (6, 8, 10). The primitive Babylonian empire was thus Hamitic, and of a cognate race with the primitive inhabitants of Arabia and of Ethiopia. (See ACCAD.) The race of Ham were the most energetic of all the descendants of Noah in the early times of the post-diluvian world.