Etymology
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ham (n.1)
"thigh of a hog used for food" (especially salted and cured or smoke-dried), 1630s, extended from earlier sense " part of the human leg behind the knee; hock of a quadruped," from Old English hamm "hollow or bend of the knee," from Proto-Germanic *hamma- (source also of Old Norse höm, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch hamme, Old High German hamma), from PIE *kone-mo- "shin bone" (source also of Greek kneme "calf of the leg," Old Irish cnaim "bone"). Ham-fisted (adj.) in reference to hard-hitting characters is from 1905; ham-handed "coarse, clumsy" is by 1896. With hammen ifalden "with folded hams" was a Middle English way of saying "kneeling."
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ham (n.2)
"overacting inferior performer," 1882, American English, apparently a shortening of hamfatter (1880) "actor of low grade," which is said (at least since 1889) to be from the old minstrel show song, "The Ham-fat Man" (attested by 1856). The song, a comical black-face number, has nothing to do with acting, but the connection might be with the quality of acting in minstrel shows, where the song was popular (compare the definition of hambone in the 1942 "American Thesaurus of Slang," "unconvincing blackface dialectician"). Its most popular aspect was the chorus and the performance of the line "Hoochee, kouchee, kouchee, says the ham fat man."

Ham also had a sports slang sense of "incompetent pugilist" (1888), perhaps from the notion in ham-fisted. The notion of "amateurish" led to the sense of "amateur radio operator" (1919).
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ham (v.)
"over-act in performance," 1933, from ham (n.2). Related: Hammed; hamming. As an adjective in this sense by 1935.
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hambone (n.)
also ham-bone, 1771, "bone of a ham," from ham (n.1) + bone (n.). Meaning "inferior actor or performer" is from 1893, an elaboration of ham (n.2).
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hamstring (n.)
"tendon at the back of the knee," 1560s, from ham "bend of the knee" (see ham (n.1)) + string (n.).
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gastrocnemius (n.)
1670s, from Latinized form of Greek gastroknemia "calf of the leg," from gaster "belly" (see gastric) + kneme "calf of the leg," from PIE *kone-mo- "shin, leg-bone" (see ham (n.1)). So called for its form (the "protuberant" part of the calf of the leg). Related: Gastrocnemical.
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limber (adj.)
"pliant, flexible," 1560s, of uncertain origin, possibly from limb (n.1) on notion of supple boughs of a tree [Barnhart], or from limp (adj.) "flaccid" [Skeat], or somehow from Middle English lymer "shaft of a cart" (see limber (n.)), but the late appearance of the -b- in that word argues against it. Related: Limberness. Dryden used limber-ham (see ham (n.1) in the "joint" sense) as a name for a character "perswaded by what is last said to him, and changing next word."
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hoochy koochy (n.)

also hoochie-coochie, hootchy kootchy, "erotic suggestive women's dance" (involving a lot of hip-grinding), 1898, of obscure origin, usually associated, without evidence, with the Chicago world's fair of 1893 and belly-dancer Little Egypt (who might not even have been there), but the word itself is attested from 1890, as the stage name of minstrel singer "Hoochy-Coochy Rice," and the chorus of the popular minstrel song "The Ham-Fat Man" (by 1856; see ham (n.2)) contains the nonsense phrase "Hoochee, kouchee, kouchee."

To-day, however, in place of the danse du ventre or the coochie-coochie we have the loop-the-loop or the razzle-dazzle, which latter, while not exactly edifying at least do not serve to deprave public taste. ["The Redemption of 'Old Coney,'" in Broadway Magazine, April 1904]
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Hamite (n.)
1854, "a descendant of Biblical Ham" (see Hamitic), with -ite (1). Used in reference to Egyptian and other peoples of north and northeast Africa; but popularly, "a black African, a negro."
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hamlet (n.)
early 14c., from Old French hamelet "small village," diminutive of hamel "village," itself a diminutive of ham "village," from Frankish *haim or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *haimaz "home" (from PIE root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home"); for ending, see -let. Especially a village without a church.
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