[hyoo or, often, yoo]
See more synonyms for hew on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.
  1. to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.
  2. to make, shape, smooth, etc., with cutting blows: to hew a passage through the crowd; to hew a statue from marble.
  3. 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.
  4. to cut down; fell: to hew wood; trees hewed down by the storm.
verb (used without object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hew·ing.
  1. to strike with cutting blows; cut: He hewed more vigorously each time.
  2. 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

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2. form.

Synonym study

1. See cut.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hewing

cleave, fashion, prune, chip, stroke, chop, strike, shape, fell, hack, carve, hold, axe

Examples from the Web for hewing

Contemporary Examples of hewing

  • Hewing to principle is difficult, because it makes party whips angry, spoils dinner parties, and ends careers and friendships.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Price of Victory

    Tunku Varadarajan

    March 21, 2010

Historical Examples of hewing

  • There's a job of hewing for you in the Conlonge shanty,—a man gone off sick.

    Old Man Savarin and Other Stories

    Edward William Thomson

  • We and our machines, both, hewing away on the infinite, beckon and are still.

    The Voice of the Machines

    Gerald Stanley Lee

  • The savages dragged him into their midst, hacking and hewing his inanimate form.


    W.H.G. Kingston

  • He was hewing at a piece of rock that was in the way for the next day's work.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • In those days men were but too well accustomed to hewing off heads.

British Dictionary definitions for hewing


verb hews, hewing, hewed, hewed or hewn (hjuːn)
  1. to strike (something, esp wood) with cutting blows, as with an axe
  2. (tr often foll by out) to shape or carve from a substance
  3. (tr; often foll by away, down, from, off, etc) to sever from a larger or another portion
  4. (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)
  1. 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 hewing



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