Definition of hatchet in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhaCHət/


A small ax with a short handle for use in one hand.
Example sentences
  • 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.


Middle English: from Old French hachette, diminutive of hache 'ax', from medieval Latin hapia, of Germanic origin.

  • 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.

Words that rhyme with hatchet

latchet, ratchet

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hatch·et

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