Old English hara "hare," from West Germanic *hasan- (cf. Old Frisian hasa, Middle Dutch haese, Dutch haas, Old High German haso, German Hase), possibly with a sense of "gray" (cf. Old English hasu, Old High German hasan "gray"), from PIE *kas- "gray" (cf. Latin canus "white, gray, gray-haired"). Perhaps cognate with Sanskrit sasah, Afghan soe, Welsh ceinach "hare." Rabbits burrow in the ground; hares do not. Hare-lip is from 1560s.
þou hast a crokyd tunge heldyng wyth hownd and wyth hare. ["Jacob's Well," c.1440]
(Heb. 'arnebeth) was prohibited as food according to the Mosaic law (Lev. 11:6; Deut. 14:7), "because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof." The habit of this animal is to grind its teeth and move its jaw as if it actually chewed the cud. But, like the cony (q.v.), it is not a ruminant with four stomachs, but a rodent like the squirrel, rat, etc. Moses speaks of it according to appearance. It is interdicted because, though apparently chewing the cud, it did not divide the hoof. There are two species in Syria, (1) the Lepus Syriacus or Syrian hare, which is like the English hare; and (2) the Lepus Sinaiticus, or hare of the desert. No rabbits are found in Syria.