1 [hag]
an ugly old woman, especially a vicious or malicious one.
a witch or sorceress.

1175–1225; Middle English hagge, Old English *hægge, akin to hægtesse witch, hagorūn spell, German Hexe witch

haggish, haglike, adjective

1. harpy, harridan, virago, shrew.
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World English Dictionary
hag1 (hæɡ)
1.  an unpleasant or ugly old woman
2.  a witch
3.  short for hagfish
4.  obsolete a female demon
[Old English hægtesse witch; related to Old High German hagazussa, Middle Dutch haghetisse]

hag2 (hæɡ, hɑːɡ)
1.  a firm spot in a bog
2.  a soft place in a moor
[C13: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse högg gap; see hew]

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

early 13c., shortening of O.E. hægtesse "witch, fury" (on assumption that -tesse was a suffix), from P.Gmc. *hagatusjon-, of unknown origin. Similar shortening derived Du. heks, Ger. Hexe "witch" from cognate M.Du. haghetisse, O.H.G. hagzusa. First element is probably cognate with O.E. haga "enclosure"
(see hedge). O.N. had tunriða and O.H.G. zunritha, both lit. "hedge-rider," used of witches and ghosts. Or second element may be connected with Norw. tysja "fairy, crippled woman," Gaul. dusius "demon," Lith. dvasia "spirit," from PIE *dhewes- "to fly about, smoke, be scattered, vanish." One of the magic words for which there is no male form, suggesting its original meaning was close to "diviner, soothsayer," which were always female in northern European paganism, and hægtesse seem at one time to have meant "woman of prophetic and oracular powers" (Ælfric uses it to render the Gk. "pythoness," the source of the Delphic oracle), a figure greatly feared and respected. Later, the word was used of village wise women. Haga is also the haw- in hawthorn, which is a central plant in northern European pagan religion. There may be several layers of folk-etymology here. If the hægtesse was once a powerful supernatural woman (in Norse it is an alternative word for Norn, any of the three weird sisters, the equivalent of the Fates), it may have originally carried the hawthorn sense. Later, when the pagan magic was reduced to local scatterings, it might have had the sense of "hedge-rider," or "she who straddles the hedge," because the hedge was the boundary between the "civilized" world of the village and the wild world beyond. The hægtesse would have a foot in each reality. Even later, when it meant the local healer and root collector, living in the open and moving from village to village, it may have had the mildly pejorative sense of hedge- in M.E. (hedge-priest, etc.), suggesting an itinerant sleeping under bushes, perhaps. The same word could have contained all three senses before being reduced to its modern one.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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