Word of the Day


© IMAGE 100


a small wild animal with a round body covered with sharp spines for protection

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

Hedgehog is a compound noun formed from the nouns ‘hedge’ and ‘hog’: the former because of the creature’s preferred habitat and the latter because of the resemblance of its snout to that of a pig. Hedgehog was first used in English in the 15th century and took a variety of forms, including ‘hegge hogge’, ‘hedghogge’ and ‘ hedghogge’ before settling in its current form.


This is Hedgehog Awareness Week, designed to raise awareness of the decline in hedgehog numbers and encourage people to take measures to help them thrive. No one knows for sure how many hedgehogs there are in the UK; what is undisputed is that their numbers have fallen dramatically over recent decades. The reasons for the decline include habitat loss both in towns and in the countryside. Tidy gardens surrounded by hedges and fences are anathema to hedgehogs, who like to range over fairly wide areas, and need abundant invertebrates to survive. The most famous literary hedgehog is undoubtedly Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the washerwoman who lives in a little cottage and was named after the author’s own pet hedgehog. The game character Sonic the Hedgehog is probably better known worldwide, however.


“The Foxe knowes many pretty wiles, but the hedghogge knowes one great one.”
(Bishop Joseph Hall)

Related words

badger, fox, squirrel, vole

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

1 Comment

Leave a Comment