hem and haw(redirected from Speech disfluencies)
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1. An edge or border on a piece of cloth, especially a finished edge, as for a garment or curtain, made by folding an edge under and stitching it down.
2. The height or level of the bottom edge of a skirt, dress, or coat; a hemline.
tr.v. hemmed, hem·ming, hems
1. To fold back and stitch down the edge of.
2. To surround and shut in; enclose: a valley hemmed in by mountains. See Synonyms at enclose.
[Middle English, from Old English hem, hemm.]
A short cough or clearing of the throat made especially to gain attention, warn another, hide embarrassment, or fill a pause in speech.
intr.v. hemmed, hem·ming, hemsIdiom:
1. To utter a hem.
2. To hesitate in speech.
hem and haw
To be hesitant and indecisive; equivocate: "a leader who cannot make up his or her mind, never knows what to do, hems and haws" (Margaret Thatcher).
[From Middle English heminge, coughing, of imitative origin.]