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

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 Summer Camp Island An elephant and a hedgehog find themselves at a wacky summer camp as this animated series premieres with a marathon of 20 quarter-hour episodes. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "Saturday's TV highlights and weekend talk shows: 'Justice League' on HBO and more," 7 July 2018 In May, American Airlines banned hedgehogs, ferrets and goats from planes. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Airline group seeks to limit all 'emotional support' animals to just dogs," 28 June 2018 Feel free to bring your cat, dog, or miniature horse, but leave the hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, birds, and reptiles at home. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "JetBlue Tightens Policy on Emotional Support Animals (But Still Allows Mini Horses)," 6 June 2018 Starting in July, American Airlines will ban ferrets, hedgehogs, and goats from their planes. Greg Gutfeld, Fox News, "Gutfeld on new rules against comfort animals," 16 May 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

7 Sep 2018

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


the setting in which something occurs

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