from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A comb for separating flax fibers.
  • transitive verb To separate (flax fibers) with a hatchel.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An instrument consisting of long iron teeth set in a board, used in cleansing flax or hemp from the tow and hards, or coarse part; a hackle or heckle. Also hetchel.
  • To draw, as flax or hemp, through the teeth of a hatchel, to separate the fiber from the hard or coarse parts of the plant; hackle or heckle.
  • Hence To tease or vex by sarcasms or reproaches; heckle.
  • Also hetchel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To draw through the teeth of a hatchel, as flax or hemp, so as to separate the coarse and refuse parts from the fine, fibrous parts.
  • transitive verb colloq. To tease; to worry; to torment.
  • noun An instrument with long iron teeth set in a board, for cleansing flax or hemp from the tow, hards, or coarse part; a kind of large comb; -- called also hackle and heckle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A comb used to separate flax fibers.
  • verb transitive To separate (flax fibers) with a hatchel, or comb.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a comb for separating flax fibers
  • verb comb with a heckle


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English hechel, possibly from Old English *hecel; akin to Middle Dutch hekel; see heckle.]


  • But as there are few merchants who do not _hatchel_ each other a little, so standing near this merchant you could see he was not free from this feeling, and you would believe, if he had owned our goods and been free to receive payment for them, in such kind of pay, he would have valued them much higher.

    Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680

  • Brindle's calf in the woods, or gather oven-wood for his mother to start again the big brick oven with its dozen loaves of rye bread, or see the plow crowding the lingering snow-banks on the side-hill, or help his father break and swingle and hatchel the flax in the barnyard?

    The Wit of a Duck and Other Papers

  • So she laid down her hatchel -- but without crossing herself -- and said:

    Russian Fairy Tales A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore

  • After scutching, the settler would pull the flax through a board of sharp iron nails called a hackle or hatchel (see accompanying photograph) in order to untangle and smooth the threads.

    News from

  • Sif real a flax comb or hatchel Sichcal s meafitring bowl or entral Siulbipe

    Archaeologia Britannica,: Giving Some Account Additional to what Has Been ...

  • "Few have ever seen a woman hatchel flax or card tow, or heard the buzzing of the foot-wheel, or seen bunches of flaxen yarn hanging in the kitchen, or linen cloth whitening on the grass.

    Home Life in Colonial Days

  • "I don't wonder you look fagged; the ride through the dust was hard enough without having all sorts of other things to hatchel you.

    The Wizard's Daughter and Other Stories


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  • From "A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg" by Guy Davenport:

    "And on a fine English day in the high Victorian year 1868, the year of the first bicycle race and the Trades Union Congress at Manchester, of The Moonstone and The Ring and the Book and of the siege of Magdela, four men gathered at Ashley House in London, a house leafy with Virginia creeper, its interior harmoniously dark and bright, like an English forest, dark with corners and doors and halls, with mahogany and teak and drapes as red as cherries, bright with windows, Indian brass, and lamps like moons, Lord Lindsay pollskepped with the hatchels of a cassowary, Lord Adare whose face looked like a silver teapot, and the galliard Captain Wynne."

    January 19, 2010

  • See also a usage on hatcheling.

    February 3, 2010