- the erectile hair on the back of an animal's neck: At the sound of footsteps, the dog raised her hackles.
- anger, especially when aroused in a challenging or challenged manner: with one's hackles up.
- the legs of an artificial fly made with feathers from the neck or saddle of a rooster or other such bird.
- hackle fly.
verb (used with object), hack·led, hack·ling.
Origin of hackle1
- parts of an artificial fly made from hackle feathers, representing the legs and sometimes the wings of a real fly
- short for hackle fly
Word Origin for hackle
Old English hacele "cloak, mantle" (cf. Old High German hachul, Gothic hakuls "cloak;" Old Norse hekla "hooded frock"). Sense of "bird plumage" is first recorded early 15c., though this might be from unrelated Middle English hackle "flax comb" (see heckle (n.)) on supposed resemblance of comb to ruffled feathers. Metaphoric extension found in raise one's hackles (as a cock does when angry) is first recorded 1881.
raise one's hackles
Make one very angry, as in That really raised my hackles when he pitched straight at the batter's head. Hackles are the hairs on the back of an animal's neck, which stick up when the animal feels fearful or angry. [Late 1800s]