ham it up


2 [ham]
an actor or performer who overacts.
an operator of an amateur radio station.
verb (used without object), verb (used with object), hammed, hamming.
to act with exaggerated expression of emotion; overact.
ham it up, to overact; ham.

1880–85; short for hamfatter, after The Hamfat Man, a black minstrel song celebrating an awkward man

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ham1 (hæm)
1.  the part of the hindquarters of a pig or similar animal between the hock and the hip
2.  the meat of this part, esp when salted or smoked
3.  informal
 a.  the back of the leg above the knee
 b.  the space or area behind the knee
4.  needlework a cushion used for moulding curves
[Old English hamm; related to Old High German hamma haunch, Old Irish cnāim bone, camm bent, Latin camur bent]

ham2 (hæm)
1.  informal theatre
 a.  an actor who overacts or relies on stock gestures or mannerisms
 b.  overacting or clumsy acting
 c.  (as modifier): a ham actor
2.  informal
 a.  a licensed amateur radio operator
 b.  (as modifier): a ham licence
vb , hams, hamming, hammed
3.  informal to overact
[C19: special use of ham1; in some senses probably influenced by amateur]

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

"meat of a hog's hind leg used for food," 1637, from O.E. hamm "hollow or bend of the knee," from P.Gmc. *kham- (cf. O.N. höm, M.Du. hamme), from PIE *konemo- "shin bone," originally "be crooked" (cf. Gk. kneme "part between the knee and ankle," O.Ir. cnaim "bone"). Ham-fisted (1928) was originally
in reference to pilots who were heavy on the controls.

"overacting performer," 1882 Amer.Eng., apparently a shortening of hamfatter (1880) "actor of low grade," said to be from an old minstrel show song, "The Ham-fat Man" (1863). The song itself, 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. The notion of "amateurish" led to the sense of "amateur radio operator" (1919). The verb in the performance sense is first recorded 1933.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Ham definition

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.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
Hamburg (Fuhlsbuttel) Airport
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Ham definition

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.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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