verb (used with object), heck·led, heck·ling.
- to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; badger.
- hackle1(def 7).
- to interrupt (a public speaker, performer, etc) by comments, questions, or taunts
- Also: hackle, hatchel (tr) to comb (hemp or flax)
- an instrument for combing flax or hemp
early 14c., “to comb (flax or hemp) with a heckle;” from heckle (n.) or from related Middle Dutch hekelen. Figurative meaning “to question severely in a bid to uncover weakness” is from late 18c. “Long applied in Scotland to the public questioning of parliamentary candidates” [OED]. Related: Heckled; heckling.
“flax comb,” c.1300, hechel, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *hecel or a cognate Germanic word (cf. Middle High German hechel, Middle Dutch hekel), from Proto-Germanic *hakila-, from PIE *keg- “hook, tooth” (see hook).