from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A barrier constructed across a waterway to control the flow or raise the level of water.
  • n. A body of water controlled by such a barrier.
  • n. A barrier against the passage of liquid or loose material, as a rubber sheet used in dentistry to isolate one or more teeth from the rest of the mouth.
  • n. An obstruction; a hindrance.
  • transitive v. To hold back or confine by means of a dam.
  • transitive v. To close up; obstruct: He tried to dam his grief. See Synonyms at hinder1.
  • n. A female parent. Used of a four-legged animal.
  • n. Archaic A mother.
  • abbr. decameter

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Symbol for the decameter (decametre), an SI unit of length equal to 101 meters (metres).
  • n. Structure placed across a flowing body of water to stop the flow.
  • n. A device to prevent a tooth from getting wet, consisting of a rubber sheet held with a band.
  • n. A reservoir.
  • v. To block the flow of water.
  • n. Female parent, mother, generally regarding breeding of animals (correlative to sire).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A female parent; -- used of beasts, especially of quadrupeds; sometimes applied in contempt to a human mother.
  • n. A king or crowned piece in the game of draughts.
  • n. A barrier to prevent the flow of a liquid; esp., a bank of earth, or wall of any kind, as of masonry or wood, built across a water course, to confine and keep back flowing water.
  • n. A firebrick wall, or a stone, which forms the front of the hearth of a blast furnace.
  • transitive v. To obstruct or restrain the flow of, by a dam; to confine by constructing a dam, as a stream of water; -- generally used with in or up.
  • transitive v. To shut up; to stop up; to close; to restrain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To obstruct or restrain the flow of by a dam; confine or raise the level of by constructing a dam, as a stream of water: often with in, up.
  • To confine or restrain as if with a dam; stop or shut up or in; obstruct: with up.
  • n. A mole, bank, or mound of earth, or a wall, or a frame of wood, constructed across a stream of water to obstruct its flow and thus raise its level, in order to make it available as a motive power, as for driving a mill-wheel; such an obstruction built for any purpose, as to form a reservoir, to protect a tract of land from overflow, etc.; in law, an artificial boundary or means of confinement of running water, or of water which would otherwise flow away.
  • n. In mining, any underground wall or stopping, constructed of masonry, clay, or timber, for the purpose of holding back water, air, or gas.
  • n. In dentistry, a guard of soft rubber placed round a tooth to keep it free from saliva while being prepared for filling.
  • n. The body of water confined by a dam.
  • n. A female parent: used of beasts, particularly of quadrupeds, and sometimes (now usually in a slighting sense) of women.
  • n. A crowned man in the game of draughts or checkers.
  • n. A fire-brick wall forming the front of the hearth or crucible of a blast-furnace, through which the tap-hole is formed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a barrier constructed to contain the flow of water or to keep out the sea
  • v. obstruct with, or as if with, a dam
  • n. a metric unit of length equal to ten meters
  • n. female parent of an animal especially domestic livestock


Middle English.
Middle English dam, dame, lady, mother; see dame.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle Dutch, Middle Low German dam, from Proto-Germanic *dammaz. (Wiktionary)
Variant of dame. (Wiktionary)



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  • You can't argue with a river, it is going to flow. You can dam it up, put it to useful purposes, deflect it, but you can't argue with it.

    (Dean Gooderham Acheson)

    August 6, 2008

  • Mad in reverse.

    November 3, 2007