hedgehog

noun

hedge·​hog ˈhej-ˌhȯg How to pronounce hedgehog (audio)
-ˌhäg
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

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 The longstanding ritual began when Roman legions brought that tradition to the Germanic tribes who concluded that if the sun appeared on Candlemas Day and a hedgehog cast a shadow, there would be six more weeks of bad weather to come. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2024 Quentin Martinez Lead researcher Arlo Hinckley first became intrigued with identifying new hedgehog species during his postdoctoral work, according to a statement released by the Smithsonian. Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 22 Dec. 2023 The British and Australian armies used hedgehogs in ground-to-ground roles during World War II. David Axe, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Two of the hedgehogs are entirely new species of soft-furred hedgehog. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 21 Dec. 2023 Claire, 16, has written fictional tales filled with colorful characters such as a superhero hedgehog or a scampering mouse in the forest. Avneet Dhaliwal, oregonlive, 23 July 2023 Stephen: There’s a lot of conversation in the garden press about encouraging wildlife of all sorts, including pollinators, frogs, and hedgehogs. Stephen Orr, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Aug. 2023 Their common names include Teddy bear, velvet, hedgehog, and buckhorn. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 7 Dec. 2023 Gone from our tables are the roasted hedgehogs of Stone Age Britain and the flamingo tongues of ancient Rome. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, 26 July 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

Note: See note at urchin.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near hedgehog

Cite this Entry

“Hedgehog.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hedgehog. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

hedgehog

noun
hedge·​hog ˈhej-ˌhȯg How to pronounce hedgehog (audio)
-ˌhäg
1
: any of several mammals of Europe, Asia, and Africa that eat insects, have sharp spines mixed with the hair on their back, and are able to roll themselves up into a spiny ball when threatened
2

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