• synonyms

hatchet man

or hatch·et·man

See more synonyms for hatchet man on Thesaurus.com
  1. a professional murderer.
  2. a writer or speaker who specializes in defamatory attacks, as on political candidates or public officials.
  3. a person whose job it is to execute unpleasant tasks for a superior, as dismissing employees.
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Origin of hatchet man

An Americanism dating back to 1745–55
Also called axman.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hatchet man

gun, rodman, torpedo

Examples from the Web for hatchet man

Historical Examples of hatchet man

  • The hatchet-man with whom Wilbur was fighting had been backing in this direction.

    Moran of the Lady Letty

    Frank Norris

  • And woe to the boat if her hatchet-man fails to cut the rope at the very second of danger!

British Dictionary definitions for hatchet man

hatchet man

noun informal
  1. a person carrying out unpleasant assignments for an employer or superior
  2. US and Canadian a hired murderer
  3. a severe or malicious critic
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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

Idioms and Phrases with hatchet man

hatchet man


A person assigned or hired to carry out a disagreeable task or unscrupulous order. For example, When it came to firing an employee, Arthur was his boss's hatchet man. This expression originally referred to a hired assassin but in the mid-1900s was transferred to less nefarious enterprises.

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A person who attacks the reputation of others, especially a journalist hired to do so, as in You can count on Mary's column to destroy the mayor—she's the perfect hatchet man. This usage gave rise to hatchet job, meaning “harsh destructive criticism.” [Mid-1900s]

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