ham

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun meat from this part of the pig, usually cured in brine and dried in smoke

Electronics

Food

  • The hind leg and thigh of a pig cut from the carcass and matured separately. Sometimes incorrectly used for the hind leg and thigh cut from a side of bacon. If to be cooked it should be soaked in water until the soaking water is not salty and boiled at a temperature around 80°C or baked until the final centre temperature is 65°C.
  • leg of pork either cured or uncured
  • The thigh of any animal. Occasionally used of cured beef and mutton.
  • Stewed

Media Studies

  • noun someone, especially an actor, who performs in an exaggerated showy style
  • verb to behave, overact, or perform a role in an exaggerated showy style

Origin & History of “ham”

The etymological meaning of ham is ‘bend’ – it comes from Germanic *kham- ‘be crooked’ – and up until the 16th century it denoted exclusively the ‘part of the leg at the back of the knee’ (a portion of the anatomy now without a word of its own in English). Hamstring (16th c.) reflects this original meaning. From the mid-16th century, it gradually extended semantically to ‘back of the thigh’ and hence ‘thigh’ generally, and by the 17th century it was being used for the ‘thigh of a slaughtered animal, especially a pig, preserved and used for food’.

Ham in the sense ‘performer who overacts’, first recorded in the late 19th century, apparently comes from an earlier hamfatter ‘bad actor’, which may have been inspired by the Negro minstrel song ‘The Ham-fat Man’.
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