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Definition: Of, pertaining to, or resembling a hedgehog

Pronunciation: Eh-rihn-AY-shuss


The word erinaceous comes to us directly from the Latin word erinaceus meaning hedgehog.

Why this word?

Are hedgehogs really that common an animal that a word in Latin was totally devoted to their reference?  And then that word came directly to us in English… because we often have to reference hedgehogs?  I understand the word as a noun but as an adjective I remain unconvinced.  I love that this word exists but am a bit stymied by its current existence.  I have seen a hedgehog maybe once in the last ten years.  It’s not like we are overrun with them, at least in America.  There are no newscasters damning the ravening hordes of terrorizing hedgehogs for afflicting us with their pestilent presence.  No doctor has ever stood at a patient’s bedside and said, “I’m sorry, but the erinaceous damage is just too severe.”  No government, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been faced with a hedgehog incursion.  I love that this word exists as I enjoy finding words that describe the little things that you wouldn’t think someone had taken the time to name, and this certainly qualifies.

How to use the word erinaceous?

“Her personality had a certain erinaceous quality that all at once made you want to hug her and be scared of her barbs.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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