urchin


urchin

noun

  1. a mischievous boy.
  2. any small boy or youngster.
  3. sea urchin.
  4. either of two small rollers covered with card clothing used in conjunction with the cylinder in carding.
  5. Chiefly British Dialect. a hedgehog.
  6. Obsolete. an elf or mischievous sprite.

noun

  1. a mischievous roguish child, esp one who is young, small, or raggedly dressed
  2. See sea urchin, heart urchin
  3. an archaic or dialect name for a hedgehog
  4. either of the two cylinders in a carding machine that are covered with carding cloth
  5. obsolete an elf or sprite
n.

late 13c., yrichon “hedgehog,” from Old North French *irechon (cf. Picard irechon, Walloon ireson, Hainaut hirchon), from Old French herichun “hedgehog” (Modern French hérisson), formed with diminutive suffix -on + Vulgar Latin *hericionem, from Latin ericius “hedgehog,” from PIE root *gher- “to bristle” (cf. Greek kheros “hedgehog;” see horror).

Still used for “hedgehog” in non-standard speech in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Shropshire. Applied throughout 16c. to people whose appearance or behavior suggested hedgehogs, from hunchbacks (1520s) to goblins (1580s) to bad girls (c.1530); meaning “poorly or raggedly clothed youngster” emerged 1550s, but was not in frequent use until after c.1780. Sea urchin is recorded from 1590s (a 19c. Newfoundland name for them was whore’s eggs).

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