Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
early 13c., "ugly old woman," probably a shortening of Old English hægtesse "witch, fury" (on assumption that -tesse was a suffix), from Proto-Germanic *hagatusjon-, of unknown origin. Similar shortening produced Dutch heks, German Hexe "witch" from cognate Middle Dutch haghetisse, Old High German hagzusa.\n
\nFirst element is probably cognate with Old English haga "enclosure, portion of woodland marked off for cutting" (see hedge (n.)). Old Norse had tunriða and Old High German zunritha, both literally "hedge-rider," used of witches and ghosts. Second element in the prehistoric compound may be connected with Norwegian tysja "fairy; crippled woman," Gaulish dusius "demon," Lithuanian dvasia "spirit," from PIE *dhewes- "to fly about, smoke, be scattered, vanish."\n
\nOne 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 Greek "pythoness," the voice of the Delphic oracle), a figure greatly feared and respected. Later, the word was used of village wise women.\n
\nHaga is also the haw- in hawthorn, which is an important tree in northern European pagan religion. There may be several layers of folk etymology here. Confusion or blending with heathenish is suggested by Middle English hæhtis, hægtis "hag, witch, fury, etc.," and haetnesse "goddess," used of Minerva and Diana.\n
\nIf 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 might originally have 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 Middle English (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.
A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children's tales such as Hansel and Gretel. Hags are often seen as malevolent, but may also be one of the chosen forms of shapeshifting deities, such as the Morrígan or Badb, who are seen as neither wholly beneficent nor malevolent.
Hag (Dungeons & Dragons)
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, hags are witchlike beings that use magic to spread havoc and destruction. There are many variations of hags that have appeared in the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons from their first appearance in a 1975 rules supplement.
Hag is the thirteenth studio album by Merle Haggard released on Capitol Records in 1971. It became his fifth album to top the Billboard country album charts. It also reached number 66 on the pop albums chart.
A hag is a wizened old woman, or a fairy with the appearance of an old woman.
Hag may also refer to:
- HAG, a Swiss model train company
- Håg, in Scandinavian mythology
- Hag (album), a 1971 album by Merle Haggard
- Hag (Dungeons & Dragons), a class of fictional role playing monster
- Hag and Troll, demonic super villains in the Marvel Comics Universe
- Book of Haggai, a book of the Hebrew Bible
- Café HAG, a brand of decaffeinated coffee
- Hagberry (Prunus padus), a species of cherry
- Hagfish, jawless fish
- Hagigah, a rabbinic text
- Hagley railway station, in England
- Hag moth (Phobetron pithecium), a moth of the family
- Hanga language, spoken in Ghana
- High Assurance Guard, computer device used to communicate between different Security Domains
- Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, a Vietnamese company
- Jewish holidays (Hebrew: )
- Peat hag, a type of peat erosion that occurs e.g. at the side of gullies
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Etymology 1 n. 1 A witch, sorceress, or enchantress; a wizard. 2 (context pejorative English) An ugly old woman. 3 A fury; a she-monster. 4 A hagfish; an eel-like marine marsipobranch, (taxlink Myxine glutinosa species noshow=1), allied to the lamprey, with a suctorial mouth, labial appendages, and a single pair of gill openings. 5 A hagdon or shearwater. 6 An appearance of light and fire on a horse's mane or a man's hair. 7 The fruit of the hagberry, ''Prunus padus''. Etymology 2
n. 1 A small wood, or part of a wood or copse, which is marked off or enclosed for felling, or which has been felled. 2 A quagmire; mossy ground where peat or turf has been cut. Etymology 3
vb. (context transitive English) To harass; to weary with vexation.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Usage examples of "hag".
Magpie Maggie Hag sat down, with Phoebe Simms helping, to work on the costumes for Madame Alp and the White African Pygmies.
Maggie Hag had finished basting together the dresses for Madame Alp and the White Pygmies, and had commanded a try-on.
Madame Alp and, so as not to be ogled for free by the gathered gawks, went to wait in the tent wagon, where she could be company for Magpie Maggie Hag, still enfeebled by her premonitions or whatever was ailing her.
Like the Cailleach and other winter hags, she had to die for life on earth to go on.
I did the grownups would probably not let you read this book - Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins.
The hag sprung up, and stood confronting Glaucus with a face which would have befitted the fiercest of the Furies, so utterly dire and wrathful was its expression--yet even in horror and ghastliness preserving the outline and trace of beauty--and utterly free from that coarse grotesque at which the imaginations of the North have sought the source of terror.
Forboding seaped from all the gouls and hags and multy eyed creatures of his dark dreams.
The hag, then slowly re-entering the cave, groaningly picked up the heavy purse, took the lamp from its stand, and, passing to the remotest depth of her cell, a black and abrupt passage, which was not visible, save at a near approach, closed round as it was with jutting and sharp crags, yawned before her: she went several yards along this gloomy path, which sloped gradually downwards, as if towards the bowels of the earth, and, lifting a stone, deposited her treasure in a hole beneath, which, as the lamp pierced its secrets, seemed already to contain coins of various value, wrung from the credulity or gratitude of her visitors.
Gavrila Smodlaka had replaced the late Magpie Maggie Hag at the guichet of the red wagon and, whenever she turned to tell Florian, at his office desk behind her, that she had sold the entire stock of tickets allotted for the performance about to begin, she sounded almost tearful, as if she had committed some fault.
Other hags joined in, chanting low where Hadda soared high, rough where she was as clear as glass.
What do you really want with a girl coughing blood, hardly able to breathe, and a shrivelled hag who has somehow lived too long?
That last was a mimicking of the phrase the old hag liked to use with them afore their beatings with a birch switch.
One of those balk-line jobs with a freak tent and half a dozen rube games rigged to pay once in ten thousand tries, a couple of animals, maybe a geek, a cotton candy bowl, and a nautch tent with half a dozen worn-over hags.
Three ogres, five boggles, and a clutch of pixies, hags, and phookas leapt off the Gate platform, leaving room for three dark Sidhe.
The tale opens abruptly with an opium-bred vision of the tower of Cloisterham Cathedral, beheld by Jasper as he awakens in the den of the Princess Puffer, between a Chinaman, a Lascar, and the hag herself.