heckle

[hek-uhl]
verb (used with object), heckled, heckling.
1.
to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; badger.
2.
hackle1 ( def 7 ).
noun
3.
hackle1 ( def 5 ).

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English hekelen, variant of hechelen to comb flax; akin to hackle1, hatchel

heckler, noun


1. bait, provoke, needle, hector, hound.
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World English Dictionary
heckle (ˈhɛkəl)
 
vb
1.  to interrupt (a public speaker, performer, etc) by comments, questions, or taunts
2.  (tr) hackle, Also: hatchel to comb (hemp or flax)
 
n
3.  an instrument for combing flax or hemp
 
[C15: Northern and East Anglian form of hackle]
 
'heckler
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

heckle
"to question severely in a bid to find weaknesses," 1788, transferred usage of hekelen "to comb (flax or hemp) with a heckle," from M.E. hekele "a comb for flax or hemp" (early 14c.), from M.Du. hekelen, the original sense of which was "to prickle, irritate," from P.Gmc. *khakilo- (related to hackle).
"Long applied in Scotland to the public questioning of parliamentary candidates" [OED].
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Some rough-looking white people had started coming to the store to heckle the protesters.
Volunteers needed to heckle traffic safety violators.
His ears were sensitive too, perhaps overly so: he could hear a heckle from the back of the bleachers.
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