verb (used with object)

  1. to hold back; hinder; impede: A steady rain hampered the progress of the work.
  2. to interfere with; curtail: The dancers’ movements were hampered by their elaborate costumes.


  1. Nautical. gear that, although necessary to the operations of a vessel, is sometimes in the way.


  1. (tr) to prevent the progress or free movement of


  1. nautical gear aboard a vessel that, though essential, is often in the way


  1. a large basket, usually with a cover
  2. British such a basket and its contents, usually food
  3. US a laundry basket

late 14c., hampren “to surround, imprison, confine,” also “to pack in a container,” of unknown origin, possibly from hamper (n.1), or somehow connected to Middle English hamelian “to maim.” Related: Hampered; hampering.


“large basket,” early 14c., contraction of Anglo-French hanaper (Anglo-Latin hanepario), from Old French hanepier “case for holding a large goblet or cup;” in medical use “skull,” also “helmet; armored leather cap,” from hanap “goblet,” from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old Saxon hnapp “cup, bowl;” Old High German hnapf, German Napf, Old English hnæpp). The word also meant (15c.) “the department of Chancery into which fees were paid for sealing and enrolling charters, etc.” The first -a- may be a French attempt to render Germanic hn- into an acceptable Romanic form.


1835, “things important for a ship but in the way at certain times” (Klein’s definition), from French hamper “to impede.” Hence top hamper, originally “upper masts, spars, rigging, etc. of a sailing ship.”

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