Definition of axe in English:

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Pronunciation: /aks/
(US also ax)


Image of axe
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
More example sentences
  • 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;
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
Example sentences
  • 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.


[with object]
1End, cancel, or dismiss suddenly and ruthlessly: the company is axing 125 jobs 2,500 staff were axed as part of a rationalization programme
More example sentences
  • Car park security staff jobs have been axed at Bradford Royal Infirmary - as hospital bosses try to solve the hospital's cash crisis.
  • The 33,000 former staff whose jobs were axed as part of the recovery programme are unlikely to join the celebrations, however.
  • Shows were being axed, and others ruthlessly dumped in graveyard slots after just a couple of weeks.
cancel, withdraw, drop, abandon, end, terminate, put an end to, discontinue
informal scrap, cut, junk, ditch, dump, give something the chop, pull the plug on, knock something on the head
dismiss, give someone notice, make redundant, throw out, get rid of, lay off, let go, discharge
informal sack, fire, kick out, boot out, give someone the sack, give someone the boot, give someone the bullet, give someone the (old) heave-ho, give someone the elbow, give someone the push, give someone their marching orders, show someone the door
British informal give someone their cards
1.1Reduce (costs or services) drastically: the Chancellor warned the cabinet to axe public spending
More example sentences
  • BT is axing the upfront costs of signing up to its BT Broadband Basic service as part of a time-limited promo.
  • Elsewhere, One.Tel - part of the giant Centrica group - has axed the cost of its broadband activation fee until the end of March.
  • ‘Low prices still talk… to lure customers we axed gift-set prices by up to 20 percent,’ she said.
2Cut or strike with an axe, especially violently or destructively: the mahogany panelling had been axed
More example sentences
  • 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.

  • Since Anglo-Saxon times an axe has been a tool or weapon, but since the 1950s it has also been a musical instrument. Jazz fans started referring to saxophones as axes, but now an axe is generally an electric guitar. The axe, meaning a measure intended to reduce costs, especially by making people redundant, goes back at least to 1922. A person who has an axe to grind has a private reason for doing something. The phrase is thought to come from an 18th-century cautionary tale in which a passing stranger takes advantage of a bystander and, by flattering him, tricks him into turning a grindstone to sharpen his axe.

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