General English

General Science


  • A joint between two sheets of material, such as metal.


  • noun the ridge formed by the rows of stitching that join the two halves of the leather outer case of a cricket ball; depending on the type of ball used, the seam of a new ball can protrude up to a quarter of an inch above the rest of the surface, and this affects both the ball’s trajectory through the air and the way it moves after it pitches
    Citation ‘Neil Foster … created a favourable impression with his straightforward approach, pace, and ability to move the ball awkwardly off the seam’ (John Arlott, WCM December 1983)
  • noun a style of bowling, typically practised by bowlers of fast-medium or medium pace, characterised by movement in the air and especially movement off the pitch as the ball’s seam makes contact with the surface
    Citation ‘Karen Smithies was England’s player of the tournament. Her 77 overs of seam cost just 1.54 runs each and she took 15 wickets at 7.93’ (Carol Salmon Wisden 1994)
    Citation ‘Alan had scored 100 runs in the low-scoring match, and played our strong seam attack with skill’ (Brearley 1982)
    Citation ‘Courtney Walsh is regarded as a seam bowler, since he relies more on movement off the pitch than in the air’ (Simon Hughes, Jargonbusting: Mastering the Art of Cricket 2002)
  • noun movement of the ball off the pitch
    Citation ‘Relentlessly hitting a length, he found seam, a hint of swing, four wickets and a place in Ashes history’ (Hugh Chevallier, Wisden 2006)
    Compare swing
  • verb to make the ball deviate after pitching by using its seam to produce movement, rather than by means of spin
    Citation ‘Selvey played three times for England but has sustained a reputation as an economical new ball bowler with ability to swing and seam the ball either way’ (Alan Lee, Cricketer December 1982)
  • verb (of the ball) to deviate after pitching on the seam
    Citation ‘Often he [Wasim Akram] bowled too well: that is, when bowling over the wicket, he made the ball seam away so sharply that right-handers could not get a touch’ (Scyld Berry, Wisden 1993)
  • verb (of the wicket) to be conducive to movement off the seam
    Citation ‘An exciting morning’s cricket is promised on Headingley’s seaming wicket where West Indies … will be striving to keep a fingerhold on the Prudential World Cup’ (Derek Hodgson, Observer 12 June 1983)
    Citation ‘When they encountered seaming conditions on the opening day of the series, in Antigua, they folded for 241’ (Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, Cricinfo Magazine August 2006)

Origin & History of “seam”

A seam is etymologically a joint made by ‘sewing’. The word goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *saumaz (source also of German saum, Dutch zoom, Swedish söm, and Danish søm), which was derived from the base *sau-, the ancestor of English sew.