hedge·​hog | \ˈhej-ˌhȯg, -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

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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

While Sonic games have sold tens of millions of copies in years past, the hedgehog's titles average around a million in sales in recent years. Patrick Cooley, cleveland.com, "Why a 'Sonic the Hedgehog' movie is a terrible idea," 21 Feb. 2018 American and United are banning certain animals totally from traveling in the cabin, including hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, amphibians, sugar gliders and non-household birds. Alan Levin And Mary Schlangenstein, chicagotribune.com, "Feds OK airlines' crackdown on emotional support animals," 17 May 2018 When a baby hedgehog arrives at Massimo Vacchetta’s animal clinic in Northern Italy, the veterinarian, newly divorced and lonely, saves the orphaned creature from certain death. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, "My Beloved Octopus: Animal Memoirs Move Way Beyond Cats and Dogs," 23 Apr. 2018 Now American Airlines is telling passengers some of their service and emotional support animals — including goats, hedgehogs and tusked creatures — can’t fly. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "American Airlines bans emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and more," 14 May 2018 Sign-up Applying Isaiah Berlin’s famous distinction, the EU is a hedgehog rather than a fox. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Brexit Britain Needs to Learn the Language of the EU," 27 June 2018 In what has become a Feb. 2 tradition at the Kansas City Zoo, eyes turned to an African pygmy hedgehog. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Who needs groundhogs? KC Zoo has a sharper forecaster: A hedgehog," 2 Feb. 2018 The fast-growing category is now spawning tales of life with hedgehogs, tarantulas and tree kangaroos. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, "My Beloved Octopus: Animal Memoirs Move Way Beyond Cats and Dogs," 23 Apr. 2018 Other predator groups such as bats, primates, shrews, hedgehogs, frogs, salamanders and lizards also seem to be valuable bug eaters but are less effective natural enemies of plant-eating insects. Doyle Rice, ajc, "Yum! Birds eat up to 550 million tons of insects each year," 9 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of hedgehog

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

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Statistics for hedgehog

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for hedgehog

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

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More Definitions for hedgehog



English Language Learners Definition of hedgehog

: a small, brown animal of Europe, Asia, and Africa that has sharp spines on its back and that can roll itself up into a ball


hedge·​hog | \ˈhej-ˌhȯg, -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

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Comments on hedgehog

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something that serves to warn or remind

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