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

  • transitive verb To try to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger.
  • transitive verb To comb (flax or hemp) with a hatchel.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To comb, as flax or hemp; hatchel.
  • To question, especially in a severe or antagonistic manner, as a parliamentary candidate in Great Britain.
  • noun An instrument for cleaning, sorting, and straightening raw flax and hemp: same as hatchel.

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

  • transitive verb To interrogate, or ply with questions, esp. with severity or antagonism, as a candidate for the ministry.
  • transitive verb To shout questions or jibes at (a public speaker), so as to disconcert him or render his talk ineffective.
  • Same as hackle.

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

  • verb transitive To insult, tease, make fun of or badger.

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

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


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

[Middle English hekelen, to comb with a hatchel, from hekel, hatchel, from Middle Dutch; see keg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Transferred usage of hekelen (to comb flax or hemp with a heckle), from Middle English hekele (a comb for flax or hemp), from Middle Dutch hekelen (to prickle, irritate), from Proto-Germanic *hakilōnan (related to hackle)


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