October 03, 2011
- hackle (noun)
- What does it mean?
- : hairs along the neck and back especially of a dog that can be made to stand up
- How do you use it?
- It was clear the dog didn't like me. Hackles raised, he bared his teeth and growled.
- Are you a word wiz?
"Hackle" had an earlier meaning. What else is "hackle" used to refer to?Hackles have been used to prepare fiber for centuries now. Nothing more than a row of sharp points, spinners would drag flax through the hackle to help remove fibers that can't be spun, and to help smooth out the fibers for spinning. The hackle was a common enough tool that its name was used for other things that stuck straight up--like the hairs on the back of an angry dog's neck. "Hackle" is also used to refer to neck feathers on some birds and a particular kind of fishing lure made of feathers. It's even used sometimes instead of the word "temper" (as in, "That got my hackles up."). Nowadays, we see it most often to refer to the hairs on the back of a dog's neck.