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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To insult, tease, make fun of or badger.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

  • v. comb with a heckle
  • n. a comb for separating flax fibers
  • v. challenge aggressively


Middle English hekelen, to comb with a hatchel, from hekel, hatchel, from Middle Dutch; see keg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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 *hakil┼Źnan (related to hackle) (Wiktionary)



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    February 24, 2012