Definition of hatchet in English:
- A long handle version is about 36 inches long; a short handle, like a hatchet, is 16 to 20 inches.
- A 19-YEAR-OLD was chased to his home by a 25-year-old man carrying a hatchet and a knife, Limerick Circuit Court heard yesterday.
- On his left hung some long axes, some double edged and still others were hand axes, hatchets.
English took over French hachette in the Middle Ages. It derives from hache ‘an axe’— see hash. To bury the hatchet, ‘end a quarrel or conflict’, refers to a Native American custom which involved burying a hatchet or tomahawk to mark the conclusion of a peace treaty between warring groups. The custom is described as early as 1680; the current sense of the phrase emerged around 70 years later. In 1974 the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson observed wryly of his Cabinet: ‘I've buried all the hatchets. But I know where I've buried them and I can dig them up if necessary.’ Since the 1940s a hatchet man has been somebody employed to carry out controversial or disagreeable tasks, such as dismissing people from their jobs or writing journalistic pieces to destroy a person's reputation. The original hatchet man, in the USA during the late 19th century, was a hired Chinese assassin who carried a hatchet with the handle cut off.
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