Definition of hackle
1 a : one of the long narrow feathers on the neck or saddle of a bird b : the neck plumage of the domestic fowl
2 : a comb or board with long metal teeth for dressing flax, hemp, or jute
4 a : an artificial fishing fly made chiefly of the filaments of a cock's neck feathers b : filaments of cock feather projecting from the head of an artificial fly
Did You Know?
In its earliest uses in the 15th century, "hackle" denoted either a bird's neck plumage or an instrument used to comb out long fibers of flax, hemp, or jute. Apparently, some folks saw a resemblance between the neck feathers of domestic birds - which, on a male, become erect when the bird is defensive - and the prongs of the comb-like tool. In the 19th century, English speakers extended the word's use to both dogs and people. Like the bird's feathers, the erectile hairs on the back of a dog's neck stand up when the animal is agitated. With humans, use of the word hackles is usually figurative. When you raise someone's hackles, you make them angry or put them on the defensive.
Origin of hackle
Middle English hakell; akin to Old High German hāko hook — more at hook
First Known Use: 15th century
First Known Use of hackle
Seen and Heard
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