Definition of hackle
1a : one of the long narrow feathers on the neck or saddle of a birdb : the neck plumage of the domestic fowl
2 : a comb or board with long metal teeth for dressing flax, hemp, or jute
4a : an artificial fishing fly made chiefly of the filaments of a cock's neck feathersb : filaments of cock feather projecting from the head of an artificial fly
hackle was our Word of the Day on 03/20/2017. Hear the podcast!
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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.
First Known Use of hackle
Seen and Heard
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