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From Middle English damdamme, from Old English damdamm, from Proto-West Germanic *damm, from Proto-Germanic *dammaz, from an unknown source, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *dʰm̥bʰ- (to dig), if the original meaning was “dyke created by excavating the earth,” see also Ancient Greek τάφος (táphostomb)ταφή (taphḗ)θάπτω (tháptōbury).


dam (plural dams)

  1. A structure placed across a flowing body of water to stop the flow or part of the flow, generally for purposes such as retaining or diverting some of the water or retarding the release of accumulated water to avoid abrupt flooding.
    dam is often an essential source of water to farmers of hilly country.
  2. The water reservoir resulting from placing such structure.
    Boats may only be used at places set aside for boating on the dam.
  3. (dentistry) A device to prevent a tooth from getting wet during dental work, consisting of a rubber sheet held with a band.
  4. (South Africa, Australia) A reservoir.
  5. A firebrick wall, or a stone, which forms the front of the hearth of a blast furnace.


dam (third-person singular simple present damspresent participle dammingsimple past and past participle dammed)

  1. (transitive) To block the flow of water.
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