—v.t. 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 fol. by in, around, or about): hemmed in by enemies.
—n. 1. an edge made by folding back the margin of cloth and sewing it down.
2. the edge or border of a garment, drape, etc., esp. at the bottom.
3. the edge, border, or margin of anything.
4. Archit.the raised edge forming the volute of an Ionic capital.
—interj. (an utterance resembling a slight clearing of the throat, used to attract attention, express doubt, etc.)
—n. 1. the utterance or sound of “hem.”
2. a sound or pause of hesitation: His sermon was full of hems and haws.
—v.i. 1. to utter the sound “hem.”
2. to hesitate in speaking.
3. hem and haw, a. to hesitate or falter: She hemmed and hawed a lot before she came to the point. b. to speak noncommittally; avoid giving a direct answer: He hems and haws and comes out on both sides of every question.
var. of hemo- before a vowel: hemal.Also,esp. Brit.,haem-.Cf. haemat-.