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

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.