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verb \ˈhyü\

Simple Definition of hew

  • : to shape (something) by cutting with a sharp tool (such as an ax)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of hew

hewedhewed or hewn play \ˈhyün\ hewing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to cut with blows of a heavy cutting instrument

  3. 2 :  to fell by blows of an ax <hew a tree>

  4. 3 :  to give form or shape to with or as if with heavy cutting blows <hewed their farms from the wilderness — J. T. Shotwell>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to make cutting blows

  7. 2 :  conform, adhere <hew to tradition> —often used in the phrase hew to the line <no pressure … on newspapers to hew to the official line — New York Times Magazine>

hewer noun

Examples of hew in a sentence

  1. They hewed logs to build a cabin.

  2. The walls are built of stones hewn by skilled craftsmen.

Did You Know?

Hew is a strong, simple word of Anglo-Saxon descent. It can suggest actual ax-wielding, or it can be figurative: "If ... our ambition hews and shapes [our] new relations, their virtue escapes, as strawberries lose their flavor in garden-beds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). It's easy to see how the figurative "shape" sense of "hew" developed from the literal hacking sense, but what does chopping have to do with adhering and conforming? That sense first appeared in the late 1800s in the phrase "hew to the line." The "hew line" is a line marked along the length of a log indicating where to chop in order to shape a beam. "Hewing to the line," literally, is cutting along the mark-adhering to it-until the side of the log is squared.

Origin of hew

Middle English, from Old English hēawan; akin to Old High German houwan to hew, Lithuanian kauti to forge, Latin cudere to beat

First Known Use: before 12th century



Definition of HEW

  1. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

HEW Defined for Kids


verb \ˈhyü\

Definition of hew for Students

hewed or hewn \ˈhyün\hewing

  1. 1 :  to chop down <hew trees>

  2. 2 :  to shape by cutting with an ax <hew logs>

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a smart aleck

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