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 (typically after a preposition, or otherwise with accusative or dative force; now only in unstressed position).
1602, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night:
- Some are become great, some atcheeues greatnesse, and some haue greatnesse thrust vppon em.
1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
- 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, John Baron, The Guardian, 3 December:
- We've literally had dozens of your photographs submitted this week – keep ’em coming!