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[pahm] /pɑm/

the part of the inner surface of the hand that extends from the wrist to the bases of the fingers.
the corresponding part of the forefoot of an animal.
the part of a glove covering this part of the hand.
Also called sailmaker’s palm. a stiff rawhide or metal shield worn over this part of the hand by sailmakers to serve as a thimble.
a linear measure of from 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm), based on the breadth of the hand.
a linear measure of from 7 to 10 inches (17.5 to 25 cm), based on the length of the hand.
the flat, expanded part of the horn or antler of a deer.
a flat, widened part at the end of an armlike projection.

a flat-topped bearing member at the head of a stanchion.
verb (used with object)
to conceal in the palm, as in cheating at cards or dice or in juggling.
to pick up stealthily.
to hold in the hand.
to impose (something) fraudulently (usually followed by on or upon):
to palm stolen jewels on someone.
to touch or stroke with the palm or hand.
to shake hands with.
Basketball. to grip (the ball) momentarily with the hand in the act of dribbling.
Verb phrases
palm off, to dispose of by deception, trickery, or fraud; substitute (something) with intent to deceive:
Someone had palmed off a forgery on the museum officials.
grease someone’s palm, to bribe:
Before any work could begin, it was necessary to grease the superintendent’s palm.
Also, cross someone’s palm.
the inner part of the hand from the wrist to the base of the fingers related adjectives thenar volar
a corresponding part in animals, esp apes and monkeys
a linear measure based on the breadth or length of a hand, equal to three to four inches or seven to ten inches respectively
the part of a glove that covers the palm
a hard leather shield worn by sailmakers to protect the palm of the hand

a flattened or expanded part of the antlers of certain deer
in the palm of one’s hand, at one’s mercy or command
verb (transitive)
to conceal in or about the hand, as in sleight-of-hand tricks
to touch or soothe with the palm of the hand
any treelike plant of the tropical and subtropical monocotyledonous family Arecaceae (formerly Palmae or Palmaceae), usually having a straight unbranched trunk crowned with large pinnate or palmate leaves
a leaf or branch of any of these trees, a symbol of victory, success, etc
merit or victory
an emblem or insignia representing a leaf or branch worn on certain military decorations

“flat of the hand,” c.1300, from Old French palme (Modern French paume), from Latin palma “palm of the hand,” also “flat end of an oar; palm tree,” from PIE *pel- “to spread out; flat” (cf. Greek palame “open hand,” Old Irish lam, Welsh llaw, Old English folm, Old High German folma “hand,” Sanskrit panih “hand, hoof”). Palm oil is earlier in the punning sense of “bribe” (1620s) than in the literal sense of “oil from the fruit of the West African palm” (1705, from palm (n.2)).

tropical tree, Old English palma, Old French palme, both from Latin palma “palm tree,” originally “palm of the hand;” the tree so called from the shape of its leaves, like fingers of a hand (see palm (n.1)).

The word traveled early to northern Europe, where the tree does not grow, via Christianity, and took root in the local languages (e.g. Old Saxon palma, Old High German palma, Old Norse palmr). Palm Sunday is Old English palm-sunnandæg.

In ancient times, a leaf or frond was carried or worn as a symbol of victory or triumph, or on feast days; hence figurative use of palm for “victory, triumph” (late 14c.). Palm court “large room in a hotel, etc., usually decorated with potted palms” first recorded 1908.

“impose (something) on (someone),” 1670s, from palm (n.1). Extended form palm off is from 1822.

palm (päm)
The inner surface of the hand that extends from the wrist to the base of the fingers.


To conceal a playing card against the palm in order to use it in a gambling hand: It was five cards that he palmed, three aces and a pair of queens (1673+)

Related Terms

grease someone’s palm
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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