[ ak-suhl ]
/ ˈæk səl /
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noun Figure Skating.
a jump performed by a skater leaping from the front outer edge of one skate into the air to make 1½ rotations of the body and landing on the back outer edge of the other skate.
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Origin of axel

First recorded in 1925–30; after Axel Paulsen (1855–1938), Norwegian figure skater, who popularized the maneuver


axel , axle

Other definitions for axel (2 of 2)

[ ak-suhl ]
/ ˈæk səl /

a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does axel mean?

An axel is a maneuver in figure skating. The skater leaps from the front outside edge of one skate, rotates 1 ½ times, and lands on the rear outside edge of the other skate.

The axel, also known as the axel jump, is considered the most difficult of the six jumps in figure skating. A tripleaxel, where a skater rotates 3 ½ times, has a starting value of 8 points at the Olympics, compared to the 3.3 points given for a double (2 ½ rotations) axel.

Example: The judges were impressed by the skater’s axel and her perfect landing after completing the spin.

Where does axel come from?

The first records of the term axel come from the 1920s. The jump is named after Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen, who introduced the maneuver to figure skating in 1882.

The blade of an ice skate has two edges. To perform an axel, the skater must leap from the outer edge of one skate to the outer edge of the other.

The axel is the only jump in figure skating done while facing forward. The fact that a skater has to land backwards on the opposite foot is part of what makes the move so difficult. Adding spins to create the double and triple axel amplifies the move’s difficulty, and the triple axel is the highest scoring triple jump in Olympic figure skating because it is so difficult to perform.

Today, the axel is a staple of figure skating and the move must be performed successfully as part of an Olympic routine. The triple axel has become part of many of the top men’s figure skater routines.

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How is axel used in real life?

Axel is almost always used when talking about or comparing things to figure skating. It is especially common to see it used by fans during the Olympics.



Try using axel!

True or False?

When performed correctly, a figure skater will begin an axel facing backwards and land facing forwards.

How to use axel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for axel

/ (ˈæksəl) /

skating a jump in which the skater takes off from the forward outside edge of one skate, makes one and a half, two and a half, or three and a half turns in the air, and lands on the backward outside edge of the other skate

Word Origin for axel

C20: named after Axel Paulsen (died 1938), Norwegian skater
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012