View synonyms for ax


or axe

[ aks ]


, plural ax·es [ak, -siz].
  1. an instrument with a bladed head on a handle or helve, used for hewing, cleaving, chopping, etc.
  2. Jazz Slang. any musical instrument.
  3. the ax, Informal.
    1. dismissal from employment:

      to get the ax.

    2. expulsion from school.
    3. rejection by a lover, friend, etc.:

      His girlfriend gave him the ax.

    4. any usually summary removal or curtailment.

verb (used with object)

, axed, ax·ing.
  1. to shape or trim with an ax.
  2. to chop, split, destroy, break open, etc., with an ax:

    The firemen had to ax the door to reach the fire.

  3. Informal. to dismiss, restrict, or destroy brutally, as if with an ax:

    The main office axed those in the field who didn't meet their quota. Congress axed the budget.


  1. variant of axi-, especially before a vowel.



abbreviation for

  1. axiom.

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Other Words From

  • axlike adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of ax1

before 1000; Middle English; ax ( e ), ex ( e ), Old English æx, æces; akin to Gothic aquizi, Old Norse øx, ǫx, Old High German acc ( h ) us, a ( c ) kus ( German Axt ), Middle High German plural exa < Germanic *akwiz-, akuz-, aksi- *ákəs, áks-; Latin ascia (< *acsiā ), Greek axī́nē; < Indo-European *ag-s-

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. have an ax to grind, to have a personal or selfish motive:

    His interest may be sincere, but I suspect he has an ax to grind.

More idioms and phrases containing ax

In addition to the idiom beginning with ax , also see get the ax .

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Example Sentences

As for those who aren’t on the final USA Basketball team, well, there are plenty of folks with an ax to grind about that.

The show lasted three seasons, most recently airing in January 2021, before getting the ax.

From Time

The truck was also carrying paintball guns, shields, three bats and an ax handle, prosecutors said.

The crusty conservative battle-ax Phyllis Schlafly is giving speeches saying that Obama worships government like a god.

One morning a few years ago, the editor left his apartment to find an ax stuck into a log on his doorstep.

“Kasich wields his ax much less selectively than do most of his party colleagues,” the New York Times Magazine reported in 1998.

Then, one warm summer day, Andrew and Abby were found hacked to death more than a dozen times with an ax.

The ensuing night gave me the grand migraine of my life, with throbs like the blows of an ax and continuous pinwheels.

Victor was the younger son and brother—a tete montee, with a temper which invited violence and a will which no ax could break.

From somewhere in the thicket below a muffled thump, thump, thump came up to them, as though some one was wielding an ax.

The blows of the ax, off in the chaparral, were louder in their ears now, and they could hear a mumble of voices.

Gregory picked up an ax as he stepped back, and then stood confronting the boys threateningly.

The ax was to sever the head from the lifeless body, and all the headless trunks were to be interred together.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.