AskDefine | Define hackle

Dictionary Definition

hackle n : long slender feather on the necks of e.g. turkeys and pheasants v : comb with a heckle; "heckle hemp or flax" [syn: heckle, hatchel]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. One of the peculiar, long, narrow feathers on the neck of fowls, most noticeable on the cock.
  2. A feather plume on some soldier's uniforms, especially the hat or hlemet.
  3. The hair on the nape of the neck.
    When the dog got angry his hackles rose and he growled.

Usage notes

Hackles in the sense of hair on the neck is usually spoken of in the plural.



  1. Descriptive of the feathers of a fowl.
    The hackle feathers of the cock were long and golden.

Extensive Definition

The hackle is a feather plume (most plumes are made of horsehair) that is attached to the headdress.
In the British Army and the armies of some Commonwealth countries the hackle is worn by some infantry regiments, especially those designated fusilier regiments and those with Scottish and Northern PA origins. It was commonly attached to the feather bonnet worn by Highland regiments (now usually only worn by drummers, pipers and bandsmen). The colour of the hackle varies from regiment to regiment.

British Army

Fusilier Regiments

In the British Army, there is a single regiment of fusiliers, plus a battalion of a large regiment:
There were several other fusilier regiments which have been amalgamated and no longer exist. Their colours were as follows:
The fictional regiment featured in the series Soldier Soldier is also a fusilier regiment:

Non-Fusilier Regiments

Non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle are:
Following the amalgamtion of the regiments of the Scottish Division to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland on 28 March 2006, the following hackles are being worn by the regiment's constituent battalions:
Whilst the white hackle of 2 SCOTS, red hackle of 3 SCOTS and blue hackle of 4 SCOTS have a known ancestry, the origin of 1 SCOTS black hackle and 5 SCOTS green hackle are not clear and have no apparent precedent. It may be that the black hackle of 1 SCOTS simulates the black-cock tail feathers originally worn in the 1904 pattern Kilmarnock Bonnet and latterly in the regimental Glengarry Cap by the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers, who merged in August 2006 to form 1 SCOTS. Alternatively, it may be a sympathetic gesture to a former Lowland regiment, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), disbanded in 1968, who wore a black hackle in their rifle green dress Balmoral. The adoption of the green hackle now being worn by the Argylls battalion (5 SCOTS) is no doubt a continuation of that regiment's association with the colour green, most prominent in the hue of their regimental kilts and stripes on their regimental association ties. (It is, however, worthy of note that in the 19th Century, all line regiments of the British Army used to designate their "light company" with a green hackle.) The Regimental Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland does not wear the hackle.
Former non-fusilier regiments, now amalgamated, which also wore the hackle were:

Canadian Army

There are also several fusilier regiments in the Canadian Army which wear the hackle (the French-speaking fusilier regiments do not appear to do so):
Scottish-influenced non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle include:
Irish-influenced non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle (on the caubeen) include:

Indian Army

In the Indian Army, a few selected infantry regiments wear the hackle:

Malaysian Army

Pakistan Army

South African Army

Scottish- and Irish-influenced regiments which wear the hackle include:


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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