heck·​le ˈhe-kəl How to pronounce heckle (audio)
heckled; heckling ˈhe-k(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce heckle (audio)

transitive verb

: to harass and try to disconcert with questions, challenges, or gibes : badger
Choose the Right Synonym for heckle

bait, badger, heckle, hector, chivy, hound mean to harass by efforts to break down.

bait implies wanton cruelty or delight in persecuting a helpless victim.

baited the chained dog

badger implies pestering so as to drive a person to confusion or frenzy.

badgered her father for a car

heckle implies persistent annoying or belligerent interruptions of a speaker.

drunks heckled the stand-up comic

hector carries an implication of bullying and domineering.

football players hectored by their coach

chivy suggests persecution by teasing or nagging.

chivied the new student mercilessly

hound implies unrelenting pursuit and harassing.

hounded by creditors

Examples of heckle in a Sentence

Several protesters were heckling the speaker at the rally. The players were being heckled by the fans. People in the crowd were booing and heckling as she tried to speak.
Recent Examples on the Web And Anderson’s mother, Doris Bowman, killed as the evening’s shadow co-host, heckling winners who took too long with their speeches. The New York Times, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 According to Doncic, the fan, wearing a Suns jersey, had been heckling him throughout the first and second half of the game until Doncic asked for him to be removed in the third quarter. Lawrence Dow, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 25 Jan. 2024 President Biden was heckled Wednesday during a speech at a United Auto Workers union conference in Washington, D.C. by pro-Palestinian protesters, the second such interruption in as many days for the president. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 24 Jan. 2024 In the video, Newton - the Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn - appears to heckle a teenage fan with a rude gesture. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 26 July 2023 Jones was among them, and said that white supremacists came out to heckle the protesters. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 15 Jan. 2024 And understandably so, since heckling at jazz concerts is as unprecedented as stage-diving at symphony orchestra performances or mosh-pits at book signings. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Oct. 2023 The first two hours of the police operation were relatively calm, with protesters largely looking on, chanting occasionally and, for a handful of demonstrators, heckling the officers. Hannah Wiley, Los Angeles Times, 4 Jan. 2024 Alas, heckling is precisely what a near-capacity audience experienced at guitar legend Pat Metheny’s often sublime Oct. 28 solo concert at The Magnolia in El Cajon. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'heckle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English hekelen to dress flax, scratch, from heckele hackle; akin to Old High German hāko hook — more at hook

First Known Use

circa 1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of heckle was circa 1825

Dictionary Entries Near heckle

Cite this Entry

“Heckle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heckle. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


heck·​le ˈhek-əl How to pronounce heckle (audio)
heckled; heckling -(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce heckle (audio)
: to interrupt with questions or comments usually with the intention of annoying or hindering
were heckling the speaker
heckler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on heckle

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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