Definition of axe in English:


Line breaks: axe
(US also ax)


  • 1A tool used for chopping wood, typically of iron with a steel edge and wooden handle: I started swinging the axe at the lumps of driftwood [as modifier]: an axe blade
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    • John enjoyed the outdoors, gardening, feeding wild turkeys, his dog, sawing and chopping wood with his axe and swede saw.
    • He threw up the axe handle and I chopped the wood almost in two.
    • After the game finished, he was surprised to find the wooden handle of his axe had rotted.
    hatchet, cleaver; adze; tomahawk; British chopper
    historical battleaxe, poleaxe
  • 1.1A measure intended to reduce costs drastically, especially one involving redundancies: thirty staff are facing the axe at the Royal Infirmary
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    • Another 50 jobs in the finance sector are also facing the axe, many at account level.
    • Post offices in Pewsham, near Chippenham, and Frampton Cotterell and Hambrook in Gloucestershire are the other branches in the region facing the axe next month.
    • The proposed closures come on top of six branches in Rochdale and Royton which have shut since June last year and a further seven branches in Heywood and Middleton which are facing the axe.
  • 2 informal A musical instrument used in popular music or jazz, especially a guitar or (originally) a saxophone.
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    • They know how to bang riffs out of their axes well, but it tends to get buried beneath the mediocrity and predictability of their songwriting.
    • In terms of performance he doesn't disappoint, from miming along to a solo on his guitar to shooting at members of the audience with his plastic axe.
    • That's to say, he plays as if he knows what his next line is going to sound like before he goes slamming it out of his axe, and that's a mighty big step to make.


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  • 2Cut or strike with an axe, especially violently or destructively: the mahogany panelling had been axed
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    • They axed doors down that could easily have been opened, broke furniture unnecessarily and tipped the contents of drawers and cupboards all over the place.
    • Swinging it open, Uncle Noah burst into the room, looking for all the world like a firefighter who had just axed his way in.
    • Jack Nicholson's crazed cry of ‘Here's Johnny’ as he axes his way through a door in pursuit of his wife has been named the most terrifying screen moment of all time.


have an axe to grind

Have a private reason for doing or being involved in something: he has no political axe to grind
More example sentences
  • They are also dependent on informers who, as we journalists know, can sometimes misinform, especially if they have an axe to grind or a political goal to pursue.
  • Even if the political insider seems to have an ax to grind, political junkies never tire of their ‘I Was There’ versions of history.
  • I've had political science classes where the professor doesn't really have an ax to grind per se, but you can tell that he comes from a certain perspective.


Old English æx, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aaks and German Axt.

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