Ham Anyone? Diane J DJ Lost firstname.lastname@example.org
Why do we call someone who overacts a "ham"?
Throughout the English-speaking world, thespians who overact
are commonly called hams. At first glance, there is no obvious
reason for this connection between pig and player, other than
the linguistic one that such an actor is hogging the limelight
and doing everything but chew up the scenery in order to make
In the history of histrionics, two scholarly explanations for
the use of "ham" turn up most often. One has it that the word
comes from the ham fat that actors once used to take off their
makeup. But ham would more logically relate to laying it on
thick, not taking it off. More credible is the notion that
hams were actors who once played HAMlet but now had to take
whatever roles they could get. Going from great art to play-
for-pay left them still making grand gestures but now over
miniscule material--much ado about nothing, so to speak.
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