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[ur-chin] /ˈɜr tʃɪn/
a mischievous boy.
any small boy or youngster.
either of two small rollers covered with card clothing used in conjunction with the cylinder in carding.
Chiefly British Dialect. a hedgehog.
Obsolete. an elf or mischievous sprite.
Origin of urchin
1300-50; Middle English urchun, urchon hedgehog < Old North French (h)erichon, Old French heriçun < Vulgar Latin *hēriciōn- (stem of *hēriciō), equivalent to Latin ēric(ius) hedgehog + -iōn- -ion
1. rascal, scamp. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for urchin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You will at once think of the gorse and the hedgehog, or urchin, as some people call it.

    On the Seashore R. Cadwallader Smith
  • The urchin looked proudly up in his face, but made no reply.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • Not an urchin put in an appearance at the small red brick building on the turnpike.

    The Stillwater Tragedy Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • "They've stopped to take a drink, you can go your money on it," said the urchin.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • The urchin in the enemy's tree was not the most unfortunate of the nestlings.

    In Nesting Time Olive Thorne Miller
  • All at once the urchin came to a halt and planted himself in front of Henriette.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • His son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own likeness, promised to inherit the habits, with the old clothes of his father.

    The Short-story William Patterson Atkinson
  • An urchin who had frequently seen him before, stopped to gaze.

    Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
  • Stop till I get you a posy (pronounced pawawawsee), cries one urchin to another.

British Dictionary definitions for urchin


a mischievous roguish child, esp one who is young, small, or raggedly dressed
an archaic or dialect name for a hedgehog
either of the two cylinders in a carding machine that are covered with carding cloth
(obsolete) an elf or sprite
Word Origin
C13: urchon, from Old French heriçon, from Latin ēricius hedgehog, from ēr, related to Greek khēr hedgehog
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for urchin

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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urchin in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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