Adventures in Etymology 23 – Hedge

Today we are looking at the word hedge [hɛdʒ].



  • a row of bushes or small trees planted close together, especially when forming a fence or boundary


It comes from the Middle English word hegge [hɛd͡ʒ] (hedge, bush, shrub), from the Old English heċġ [hed͡ʒ] (fence), from the Proto-West-Germanic *haggju (hedge), from the Proto-Germanic *hagjō [ˈxɑɣ.jɔ] (hedge), from the PIE *kagʰyóm (enclosure, hedge) [source].

The English words quay (as in a stone wharf) and haw (as in hawthorn, and an old word hedge) come from the same root, as does the Welsh word cae [kaːɨ̯/kai̯] (field, pitch), the Cornish word ke (hedge, fence), and the Breton word kae (hedge) [source].

Other words from the same root include the French haie [ɛ] (hedge, obstacle, hurdle, fence), which was borrowed from Frankish, and words for hedge in Germanic languages, including Hecke [ˈhɛkʰə] in German and heg [ɦɛx] in Dutch [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog.

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