or axe

[ aks ]
See synonyms for ax on
noun,plural ax·es [ak-siz]. /ˈæk sɪz/.
  1. an instrument with a bladed head on a handle or helve, used for hewing, cleaving, chopping, etc.

  2. Jazz Slang. any musical instrument.

  1. the ax, Informal.

    • dismissal from employment: to get the ax.

    • expulsion from school.

    • rejection by a lover, friend, etc.: His girlfriend gave him the ax.

    • 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.

  1. 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.

Idioms about ax

  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.

Origin of ax

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-

Other words from ax

  • axlike, adjective

Other definitions for ax- (2 of 3)


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

Other definitions for ax. (3 of 3)


  1. axiom. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ax in a sentence

  • 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.

    Motor Matt's "Century" Run | Stanley R. Matthews
  • The blows of the ax, off in the chaparral, were louder in their ears now, and they could hear a mumble of voices.

    Motor Matt's "Century" Run | Stanley R. Matthews
  • Gregory picked up an ax as he stepped back, and then stood confronting the boys threateningly.

    Motor Matt's "Century" Run | Stanley R. Matthews
  • The ax was to sever the head from the lifeless body, and all the headless trunks were to be interred together.

Other Idioms and Phrases with ax


In addition to the idiom beginning with ax

  • ax to grind

also see:

  • get the ax

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