There are 2 main definitions of hew in English:


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Pronunciation: /hjuː

verb (past participle hewn /hjuːn/ or hewed)

1 [with object] Chop or cut (something, especially wood or coal) with an axe, pick, or other tool: master carpenters would hew the logs with an axe he had hewn down the famous elm tree
More example sentences
  • The girls are expected to help their mothers in drawing water, hewing wood, and plastering houses.
  • A girl is regarded as grown up when she can cultivate food gardens, hew wood, carry water, and look after her family and family members even when her mother is absent.
  • It's hard work climbing mountains and hewing wood.
1.1Make or shape by cutting a hard material such as wood: a seat hewn out of a fallen tree trunk
More example sentences
  • Each statue was hewn out of hard volcanic material from quarries near the Rano Raraku volcano.
  • Rising vertically from the plains, some of these huge monoliths soar to a height of 400 metres, and the squat buildings on top of each appear to be hewn out of living rock.
  • The road was now a stony, unsurfaced single track that had been hewn out of the sheer mountainside, hundreds of metres above the valley floor.
2 [no object] (hew to) North American Conform or adhere to: his administration would hew to high ethical standards
More example sentences
  • Commissioner Smith hews to the traditional American view that political speech should be unregulated.
  • The director hews to tradition by having his lead singers on stage only two or three times a week.
  • A movie based on or inspired by historical events is always judged on two levels - the extent to which the film hews to historical accuracy, and the larger meaning that is derived from the current context through which the film is viewed.


Old English hēawan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch houwen and German hauen.

Definition of hew in:

There are 2 main definitions of hew in English:


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(The US Department of) Health, Education, and Welfare: he was HEW secretary 1970–73

Definition of hew in: