To go ham is to go all in on something, in a raging, aggressive manner, pushing all obstacles aside.
There are several definitions and interpretations to the expression, ranging from an Urban Dictionary entry, that defined going ham as “doing something, that isn’t kosher for somebody” to the widely popular and embraced explanation; “go Hard As a Motherfucker.”
The latter meaning has appeared, however, years after the phrase has been used widely in the English language.
Origin of the term
Many people attribute the expression to Jay Z and Kanye West, who published a song titled “H•A•M.”
This song defined ham as “hard as a motherfucker” and many fans and listeners adopted the explanation.
The song, however was published only in 2011, when going ham was already widely used and recognized by English speakers.
A possible origin for the expression lies in amateur radio operators, who are referred to as hams.
One advertisement from the 1970’s even describes a product as “perfect for going ham.”
Spread of the term
The first time, the phrase go ham appeared in hip hop is in fact not from Jay Z and Kanye, but Gucci, who published a track, titled “Go Ham on Em” in 2008.
Urban Dictionary definitions started appearing after this, though the “hard as a motherfucker” interpretations didn’t appear until after the aforementioned song.