hem and haw

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hem 1

 (hĕm)
n.
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.]

hem′mer n.

hem 2

 (hĕm)
n.
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, hems
1. To utter a hem.
2. To hesitate in speech.
Idiom:
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.]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Verb1.hem and haw - utter `hems' and `haws'; indicated hesitation; "He hemmed and hawed when asked to address the crowd"
pause, hesitate - interrupt temporarily an activity before continuing; "The speaker paused"
References in periodicals archive ?
Omit minor speech disfluencies, ambient sounds, and recording stops.
Spontaneous spoken discourse has traditionally been approached through discourse analysis, and through comprehension studies that have focused on the processing of speech disfluencies and prosodic cues.