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hem1

[hem] /hɛm/
verb (used with object), hemmed, hemming.
1.
to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc.); form an edge or border on or around.
2.
to enclose or confine (usually followed by in, around, or about):
hemmed in by enemies.
noun
3.
an edge made by folding back the margin of cloth and sewing it down.
4.
the edge or border of a garment, drape, etc., especially at the bottom.
5.
the edge, border, or margin of anything.
6.
Architecture. the raised edge forming the volute of an Ionic capital.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English hem(m), Old English hem, probably akin to hamm enclosure; see home
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for hem in

hem1

/hɛm/
noun
1.
an edge to a piece of cloth, made by folding the raw edge under and stitching it down
2.
short for hemline
verb (transitive) hems, hemming, hemmed
3.
to provide with a hem
4.
usually foll by in, around, or about. to enclose or confine
Word Origin
Old English hemm; related to Old Frisian hemme enclosed land

hem2

/hɛm/
noun, interjection
1.
a representation of the sound of clearing the throat, used to gain attention, express hesitation, etc
verb hems, hemming, hemmed
2.
(intransitive) to utter this sound
3.
hem and haw, hum and haw, to hesitate in speaking or in making a decision
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hem in
hem
O.E. hem "a border," from P.Gmc. *khamjanan (cf. O.N. hemja "to bridle, curb," O.Fris. hemma "to hinder," M.Du., Ger. hemmen "to hem in, stop, hinder"), from the same root that yielded hamper and O.E. hamm, common in place names (where it means "enclosure, land hemmed in by water or high ground, land in a river bend"). The phrase hem in "shut in, confine," first recorded 1538. Hem-line first attested 1923.
hem
1470, probably imitative of the sound of clearing the throat. Hem and haw first recorded 1786, from haw "hesitation," first recorded 1632.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hem in in the Bible

of a garment, the fringe of a garment. The Jews attached much importance to these, because of the regulations in Num. 15:38, 39. These borders or fringes were in process of time enlarged so as to attract special notice (Matt. 23:5). The hem of Christ's garment touched (9:20; 14:36; Luke 8:44).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with hem in
see: fence in
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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8
8
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