[hyoo or, often, yoo]

verb (used with object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.

to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.
to make, shape, smooth, etc., with cutting blows: to hew a passage through the crowd; to hew a statue from marble.
to sever (a part) from a whole by means of cutting blows (usually followed by away, off, out, from, etc.): to hew branches from the tree.
to cut down; fell: to hew wood; trees hewed down by the storm.

verb (used without object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.

to strike with cutting blows; cut: He hewed more vigorously each time.
to uphold, follow closely, or conform (usually followed by to): to hew to the tenets of one's political party.

Origin of hew

before 900; Middle English hewen, Old English hēawan; cognate with German hauen, Old Norse hǫggva; akin to haggle
Related formshew·a·ble, adjectivehew·er, nounun·hew·a·ble, adjectiveun·hewed, adjective
Can be confusedhew hue Hugh

Synonyms for hew

2. form.

Synonym study

1. See cut.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hew

Contemporary Examples of hew

  • That may make them more likely to, collectively, hew to a more moderate path when giving odds on the election.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Intrade: An Ohio Story

    Matthew Zeitlin

    November 5, 2012

  • After Jobs left, Scully says, the company tried to hew to his design philosophy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    7 Best Reads on Steve Jobs's Life

    Josh Dzieza

    October 6, 2011

  • Behind all the finger-wagging is the idea that movies about history need to hew to facts.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Heil, Tarantino!

    Caryn James

    August 20, 2009

Historical Examples of hew

  • "I intend to hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may," the statement said.

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • We will mark a straight line on the log and hew to that line.

    Evening Round Up

    William Crosbie Hunter

  • I guess I can wait till they've begun to hew out their underpinnin'.

  • The astounded brothers were dragged away to hack and hew and carry.

    Peter and Wendy

    James Matthew Barrie

  • They draw their long scalping-knives, and hew off broad steaks.

British Dictionary definitions for hew


verb hews, hewing, hewed, hewed or hewn (hjuːn)

to strike (something, esp wood) with cutting blows, as with an axe
(tr often foll by out) to shape or carve from a substance
(tr; often foll by away, down, from, off, etc) to sever from a larger or another portion
(intr often foll by to) US and Canadian to conform (to a code, principle, etc)
Derived Formshewer, noun

Word Origin for hew

Old English hēawan; related to Old Norse heggva, Old Saxon hāwa, Old High German houwan, Latin cūdere to beat


abbreviation for (in the US)

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
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

Word Origin and History for hew

Old English heawan "to chop, hack, gash" (class VII strong verb; past tense heow, past participle heawen), earlier geheawan, from Proto-Germanic *hawwan (cf. Old Norse hoggva, Old Frisian hawa, Old Saxon hauwan, Middle Dutch hauwen, Dutch houwen, Old High German houwan, German hauen "to cut, strike, hew"), from PIE root *kau- "to hew, strike" (cf. Old Church Slavonic kovo, Lithuanian kauju "to beat, forge;" Latin cudere "to strike, beat;" Middle Irish cuad "beat, fight").

Weak past participle hewede appeared 14c., but hasn't displaced hewn. Seemingly contradictory sense of "hold fast, stick to" (in phrase hew to) developed from hew to the line "stick to a course," literally "cut evenly with an axe or saw," first recorded 1891. Related: Hewed; hewing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper