Share this entry

Share this page

hatchet

Line breaks: hatchet
Pronunciation: /ˈhatʃɪt
 
/

Definition of hatchet in English:

noun

A small axe 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.
Synonyms

Origin

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

More
  • 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.

Phrases

bury the hatchet

1
End a quarrel or conflict and become friendly.
[in allusion to an American Indian custom]
Example sentences
  • Sounds like the hatchet has been well and truly buried - the question, though, is between whose shoulder blades?
  • It is time for the IHF and the coach to bury their hatchets and make their peace with Dhanraj Pillai.
  • That means that Dainty must find a more congenial way to bury all hatchets and bring all disputing parties to the same table; if he cannot or will not do that, his days of leadership of US cricket would seem to be numbered.

Words that rhyme with hatchet

latchet, ratchet

Definition of hatchet in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day resilient
Pronunciation: rəˈzilyənt
adjective
able to recoil or spring back into shape…