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

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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 The researchers used an analysis of the protein codes favored by the new coronavirus and compared it to the protein codes from coronaviruses found in different animal hosts, like birds, snakes, marmots, hedgehogs, manis, bats and humans. CNN, "Snakes could be the source of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak," 22 Jan. 2020 Keep wet clothes from getting tangled in your dryer with these hedgehogs, whose round bodies and prickles will help your laundry dry faster by separating it. Popular Science, "Laundry accessories to make your life a little easier," 3 Jan. 2020 Once you’re done, the bionic hedgehog responds to sound commands. Time For Kids, Time, "The Best Toys of 2019," 22 Nov. 2019 The titular blue hedgehog looked so heinous in early previews that the studio completely changed the look of him. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "All the movies and TV shows you need to know about in 2020," 31 Dec. 2019 Nose swabs of 188 dead hedgehogs submitted by members of the Danish public resulted in positive tests for MRSA. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 25 Nov. 2019 Now, the electric blue hedgehog has been reimagined to look more like the traditional cartoon character — boasting larger, more animated eyes, white gloves instead of white hands, thin legs and all-around less human-like features. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Sonic Trailer Re-Released with Redesigned Hedgehog After Human-Like Original Sparked Backlash," 12 Nov. 2019 According to a news release, the animals rescued on Wednesday, Dec. 11, included a corn snake, a Tokay gecko, two chinchillas and three hedgehogs in addition to 26 fish. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Harris County Precinct 5 deputies remove exotic pets from abandoned apartment," 18 Dec. 2019 Investigators counted 95 mice, 60 rats, 23 baby rats, 14 birds, 12 rabbits, 10 flying opossums, nine guinea pigs, seven bearded dragons, four dogs, four hamsters, two cats, two geckos, a tortoise and a hedgehog. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Police remove 3 kids, 245 animals from ‘deplorable’ home," 21 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for hedgehog

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for hedgehog

Last Updated

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hedgehog.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hedgehog. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for hedgehog


How to pronounce hedgehog (audio)

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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hedgehog

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hedgehog

Spanish Central: Translation of hedgehog

Nglish: Translation of hedgehog for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hedgehog for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hedgehog

Comments on hedgehog

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showing steady, earnest care and effort

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