hedgehog

noun
hedge·​hog | \ ˈhej-ˌhȯg How to pronounce hedgehog (audio) , -ˌhäg \

Definition of hedgehog

1a : any of a subfamily (Erinaceinae) of Eurasian and African nocturnal insectivores that have both hair and spines which they present outwardly by rolling themselves up when threatened
b : any of several spiny mammals (such as a porcupine)
2a : a military defensive obstacle (as of barbed wire)
b : a well-fortified military stronghold

Illustration of hedgehog

Illustration of hedgehog

hedgehog 1a

Did you know?

There are 14 species of hedgehogs. All prefer animal food, such as insects, but will eat plant material. There are nine species of spiny hedgehogs. They have short, barbless spines on the back, a round body, small head, pointed face, and little or no tail, and range from 4 in (10 cm) to 17 in (44 cm) long. Spiny hedgehogs are native to Britain, North Africa, and Asia; one species was introduced into New Zealand. There are five species of hairy hedgehog; all are Asian. They have coarse guard hairs, but no spines and are extremely malodorous. The common hairy hedgehog may be 18 in (46 cm) long and have a 12-in (30 cm) tail.

Examples of hedgehog in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Knuckles is on his own urgent mission to find the same gotta-go-fast hedgehog as Robotnik. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 6 Apr. 2022 The first film devoted too much time to Sonic's backstory, which connected our heroic hedgehog to a race of magical owls on a planet far from Earth. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 6 Apr. 2022 To take full advantage of the opportunity Mr. Putin has offered, Mr. Biden must get in touch with his inner hedgehog and focus his foreign policy on one thing and one thing only: making Mr. Putin pay. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 Many people brought pets to the station, including a hedgehog. New York Times, 18 Mar. 2022 Tao is short, with a high forehead and a spiky hairline that give him the cautiously inquisitive appearance of a hedgehog. The New Yorker, 14 Mar. 2022 Guests can meet two-toed sloths, a green iguana, a red-footed tortoise, a four-toed hedgehog and other animals during live presentations throughout the day. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, 31 Jan. 2022 Seventeen were known zoo species, while the rest were non-zoo animals nearby, such as the Eurasian hedgehog, which is endangered in the UK. Doug Johnson, Ars Technica, 6 Jan. 2022 The researchers were also able to detect nearby native species like the endangered Eurasian hedgehog. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hedgehog.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hedgehog

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hedgehog

Middle English heyghoge, from heyg, hegge hedge entry 1 + hoge, hogge hog entry 1

Note: See note at urchin.

Learn More About hedgehog

Time Traveler for hedgehog

Time Traveler

The first known use of hedgehog was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near hedgehog

hedge garlic

hedgehog

hedgehog cactus

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for hedgehog

Last Updated

28 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hedgehog.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hedgehog. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for hedgehog

hedgehog

noun
hedge·​hog | \ ˈhej-ˌhȯg How to pronounce hedgehog (audio) , -ˌhäg \

Kids Definition of hedgehog

1 : a mammal of Europe, Asia, and Africa that eats insects, has sharp spines mixed with the hair on its back, and is able to roll itself up into a ball when threatened
2 : porcupine

More from Merriam-Webster on hedgehog

Nglish: Translation of hedgehog for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hedgehog for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hedgehog

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!