- one of the long, slender feathers on the neck or saddle of certain birds, as the domestic rooster, much used in making artificial flies for anglers.
- the neck plumage of a male bird, as the domestic rooster.
- 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.
- a comb for dressing flax or hemp.
verb (used with object), hack·led, hack·ling.
- Angling. to equip with a hackle.
- to comb, as flax or hemp.
- raise one’s hackles, to arouse one’s anger: Such officiousness always raises my hackles.
- any of the long slender feathers on the necks of poultry and other birds
- parts of an artificial fly made from hackle feathers, representing the legs and sometimes the wings of a real fly
- short for hackle fly
- a feathered ornament worn in the headdress of some British regiments
- a steel flax comb
- to comb (flax) using a 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.