From earlier hem, from Middle English hem, from Old English heom (“them”, dative) of hie, originally a dative plural form but in Middle English coming to serve as an accusative plural as well. Cognate with Dutch hun (“them”), German ihnen (“them”).
- (now colloquial) Them (now only in unstressed position following a consonant).
- c. 1601–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or What You Will”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene v], page 264, column 1:
- Some are become great, ſome atcheeues greatneſſe, and ſome haue greatneſſe thruſt vppon em.
- 1699, Robert Barret, A Companion for Midwives, Child-Bearing Women, and Nurses., London, Preface:
- We cannot reasonably ſuppoſe that Adam, who was ſo univerſally Skill'd in the Natures of all Plants, ſhould have been ignorant of their Vulnerary Qualities: Or that he would not employ this his Skill in endeavouring to cure Wounds, or Hurts, when any of his new-planted Stock had the Misfortune te receive 'em.
- 1913, Joseph C[rosby] Lincoln, chapter I, in Mr. Pratt’s Patients, New York, N.Y., London: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC, page 6:
- Then there came a reg'lar terror of a sou'wester, same as you don't get one summer in a thousand, and blowed the shanty flat and ripped about half of the weir poles out of the sand. We spent consider'ble money getting ’em reset, and then a swordfish got into the pound and tore the nets all to slathers, right in the middle of the squiteague season.
- 2010 December 3, John Baron, The Guardian:
- We've literally had dozens of your photographs submitted this week – keep ’em coming!
- For more quotations using this term, see Citations:'em.