hedgehog

noun hedge·hog \ ˈhej-ˌhȯg , -ˌhäg \
Updated on: 4 May 2018

Definition of hedgehog

1 a : 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)
2 a : a military defensive obstacle (as of barbed wire)
b : a well-fortified military stronghold

Recent Examples of hedgehog from the Web

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.

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.

Illustration of hedgehog

illustration of hedgehog

First Known Use of hedgehog

15th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1a

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

HEDGEHOG Defined for English Language Learners

hedgehog

Definition of hedgehog for English Language Learners

  • : 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


HEDGEHOG Defined for Kids

hedgehog

noun hedge·hog \ ˈhej-ˌhȯg , -ˌhäg \

Definition of hedgehog for Students

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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up hedgehog? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

good-natured ridicule

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!