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

If a woman was seen talking to or looking at ferrets, hedgehogs, mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, weasels, snakes, owls, or insects, then that woman was a witch. Longreads, "Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury," 10 June 2019 Damian Carrington at The Guardian reports that in the last 20 years, hedgehog numbers have dropped an astonishing 66 percent. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The UK’s Hedgehogs (and Other Mammals) Are In Danger," 16 June 2018 Later, Germans adapted it further, selecting a hedgehog as the predictor, instead. Megan Stein, Country Living, "The Complete History of Groundhog Day," 18 Jan. 2019 The business was launched in 2012 by Tyler Phillips and his wife Diana in Germantown, Md. Mr. Phillips’s family owns a traveling petting zoo, Squeals on Wheels, which brings hedgehogs, lizards and chicks to parties. Anne Kadet, WSJ, "Chicken and Egg Rentals Crack Open Life’s Deepest Questions," 4 Dec. 2018 A decade ago, Brits were losing so many of their beloved hedgehogs to McDonald’s McFlurry cups that activists succeeded in getting the fast food giant to change the container’s shape. Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, "Animals keep getting their heads stuck in our trash," 20 Apr. 2018 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

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

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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
2 : porcupine

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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

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