- an instrument with a bladed head on a handle or helve, used for hewing, cleaving, chopping, etc.
- Jazz Slang. any musical instrument.
- 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.
- to shape or trim with an ax.
- to chop, split, destroy, break open, etc., with an ax: The firemen had to ax the door to reach the fire.
- 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.
- 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
Examples from the Web for axe
And that means they also fall under the umbrella of programs most likely to get the axe when state and federal budgets are tight.How to Solve the Policing Crisis
January 5, 2015
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down.Keep Christmas Commercialized!
P. J. O’Rourke
December 6, 2014
He is the drone official, the bland-faced human-resources manager tasked with dropping the axe.Scott Walker: Too Boring to Beat
Ana Marie Cox
November 5, 2014
Those who propagate it are considered paranoids or activists with an axe to grind.Did Putin Blow Up the Whole Polish Government in 2010? A Second Look.
April 11, 2014
No matter what your title or your salary, every employee has a boss, and every employee can get the axe.Big Business Bullies Americans into the Machinery of Common Core
March 20, 2014
A man cutting brush in a vacant lot leaned on his axe to look after us.The Bacillus of Beauty
I will cause the axe in the act of sinking to do away his sin.The Babylonian Legends of the Creation
She cut it through, and the axe rang upon the stone wall behind it.
She squeezed past Katy, secured the axe and hung it round her own neck.
She looked at Katy reassuringly, then she took off the axe and handed it to her.
- a hand tool with one side of its head forged and sharpened to a cutting edge, used for felling trees, splitting timber, etcSee also hatchet
- an axe to grind
- an ulterior motive
- a grievance
- a pet subject
- the axe informal
- dismissal, esp from employment; the sack (esp in the phrase get the axe)
- Britishsevere cutting down of expenditure, esp the removal of unprofitable sections of a public service
- US slang any musical instrument, esp a guitar or horn
- to chop or trim with an axe
- informal to dismiss (employees), restrict (expenditure or services), or terminate (a project)
Word Origin and History for axe
Old English æces (Northumbrian acas) "axe, pickaxe, hatchet," later æx, from Proto-Germanic *akusjo (cf. Old Saxon accus, Old Norse ex, Old Frisian axe, German Axt, Gothic aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- (cf. Greek axine, Latin ascia).
The spelling ax is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than axe, which became prevalent during the 19th century; but it is now disused in Britain. [OED]
The spelling ax, though "better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, & analogy" (OED), is so strange to 20th-c. eyes that it suggests pedantry & is unlikely to be restored. [Fowler]
Meaning "musical instrument" is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for "guitar" dates to 1967. The axe in figurative sense of cutting of anything (expenses, workers, etc.), especially as a cost-saving measure, is from 1922, probably from the notion of the headman's literal axe (itself attested from mid-15c.). To have an axe to grind is from an 1815 essay by U.S. editor and politician Charles Miner (1780-1865) in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense. Misattributed to Benjamin Franklin in Weekley, OED print edition, and many other sources.
1670s, "to shape or cut with an axe," from axe (n.). Meaning "to remove, severely reduce," usually figurative, recorded by 1922. Related: Axed; axing.
see axe (n.).
Idioms and Phrases with axe
In addition to the idiom beginning with ax
- ax to grind
- get the ax