Definitions

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

  • noun A row of closely planted shrubs or low-growing trees forming a fence or boundary.
  • noun A line of people or objects forming a barrier.
  • noun A means of protection or defense, especially against financial loss.
  • noun A securities transaction that reduces the risk on an existing investment position.
  • noun An intentionally noncommittal or ambiguous statement.
  • noun A word or phrase, such as possibly or I think, that mitigates or weakens the certainty of a statement.
  • intransitive verb To enclose or bound with or as if with hedges.
  • intransitive verb To hem in, hinder, or restrict with or as if with a hedge.
  • intransitive verb To minimize or protect against the loss of by counterbalancing one transaction, such as a bet, against another.
  • intransitive verb To plant or cultivate hedges.
  • intransitive verb To take compensatory measures so as to counterbalance possible loss.
  • intransitive verb To avoid making a clear, direct response or statement.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To inclose or fence with a hedge; separate by a hedge: as, to hedge a field or garden.
  • To obstruct with a hedge or any barrier; stop or restrain by any kind of obstruction.
  • To surround with something as a barrier or a border; compass about; hem in.
  • In sporting, to protect by betting on both sides. See to hedge a bet, below.
  • To hide as in a hedge; shift; skulk.
  • In betting, to protect one's self from loss by cross-bets. See to hedge a bet, above.
  • Hence To provide a means of retreat or escape; avoid committing one's self irrevocably to anything.
  • To make or mend hedges.
  • noun A barrier or fence formed by bushes or small trees growing close together, such as thorn-bushes or beeches, and sometimes by woven twigs or wattling; also, a closely planted row of any kind of shrubbery, as evergreens, whether intended as a fence or not. See hedge-plant.
  • noun A structure made to lead fish into channels across which nets are spread.

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

  • transitive verb To inclose or separate with a hedge; to fence with a thickly set line or thicket of shrubs or small trees.
  • transitive verb To obstruct, as a road, with a barrier; to hinder from progress or success; -- sometimes with up and out.
  • transitive verb To surround for defense; to guard; to protect; to hem (in).
  • transitive verb To surround so as to prevent escape.
  • transitive verb To protect oneself against excessive loss in an activity by taking a countervailing action.
  • transitive verb to bet upon both sides; that is, after having bet on one side, to bet also on the other, thus guarding against loss. See hedge{5}.
  • noun A thicket of bushes, usually thorn bushes; especially, such a thicket planted as a fence between any two portions of land; and also any sort of shrubbery, as evergreens, planted in a line or as a fence; particularly, such a thicket planted round a field to fence it, or in rows to separate the parts of a garden.
  • noun (Bot.) a climbing plant related to the morning-glory (Convolvulus sepium).
  • noun a long-handled billhook.
  • noun (Bot.) a plant of the genus Alliaria. See Garlic mustard, under Garlic.
  • noun (Bot.) a bitter herb of the genus Gratiola, the leaves of which are emetic and purgative.
  • noun [Eng.] a secret or clandestine marriage, especially one performed by a hedge priest.
  • noun (Bot.) a plant of the genus Sisymbrium, belonging to the Mustard family.
  • noun (Bot.) an herb, or under shrub, of the genus Stachys, belonging to the Mint family. It has a nettlelike appearance, though quite harmless.
  • noun [Obs.] Low, contemptible writing.
  • noun a poor, illiterate priest.
  • noun an open-air school in the shelter of a hedge, in Ireland; a school for rustics.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a European warbler (Accentor modularis) which frequents hedges. Its color is reddish brown, and ash; the wing coverts are tipped with white. Called also chanter, hedge warbler, dunnock, and doney.
  • noun [Obs.] an insignificant writer, or a writer of low, scurrilous stuff.
  • noun See under Breast.
  • noun to be at a standstill.
  • intransitive verb To shelter one's self from danger, risk, duty, responsibility, etc., as if by hiding in or behind a hedge; to skulk; to slink; to shirk obligations.
  • intransitive verb (Betting) To reduce the risk of a wager by making a bet against the side or chance one has bet on.
  • intransitive verb To use reservations and qualifications in one's speech so as to avoid committing one's self to anything definite.

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

  • noun A thicket of bushes, usually thorn bushes; especially, such a thicket planted as a fence between any two portions of land; and also any sort of shrubbery, as evergreens, planted in a line or as a fence; particularly, such a thicket planted round a field to fence it, or in rows to separate the parts of a garden.
  • noun A non-committal or intentionally ambiguous statement.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old English hecg.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English hegge, from Old English hecg, from Proto-Germanic *hagjō (compare Dutch heg, German Hecke), from Proto-Indo-European *kagʰyo-. More at haw.

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