• (fishing) A feather used to make a fishing lure or a fishing lure incorporating a feather. [from 17th c.]
  • A feather plume on some soldier's uniforms, especially the hat or helmet.
  • (usually now in the plural) One of the long, narrow feathers on the neck of birds, most noticeable on the cock. [from 15th c.]
  • A plate with rows of pointed needles used to blend or straighten hair. [from 20th c.]
  • An instrument with steel pins used to comb out flax or hemp. [from 15th c.]
  • (usually now in the plural) By extension (because the hackles of a cock are lifted when it is angry), the hair on the nape of the neck in dogs and other animals; also used figuratively for humans. [from 19th c.]

    "When the dog got angry his hackles rose and he growled."

  • Any flimsy substance unspun, such as raw silk.


  • (archaic, transitive) To tear asunder; to break into pieces.

    "The other divisions of the kingdom being hackled and torn to pieces. — Burke."

  • (transitive) To separate, as the coarse part of flax or hemp from the fine, by drawing it through the teeth of a hackle or hatchel.
  • To dress (flax or hemp) with a hackle; to prepare fibres of flax or hemp for spinning. [from 17th c.]

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