verb (used with object), heckled, heckling.
to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; badger.
hackle1 ( def 7 ).
hackle1 ( def 5 ).

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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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
heckle (ˈhɛkəl)
1.  to interrupt (a public speaker, performer, etc) by comments, questions, or taunts
2.  (tr) hackle, Also: hatchel to comb (hemp or flax)
3.  an instrument for combing flax or hemp
[C15: Northern and East Anglian form of hackle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"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
But a lot of the heckling-and response to it-was disappointing.
They have been accused of heckling rattled musicians in high school bands, a charge they accept proudly.
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