variants or less commonly adz
: a cutting tool that has a thin arched blade set at right angles to the handle and is used chiefly for shaping wood

Illustration of adze

Illustration of adze

Examples of adze in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Other tools are far more complex and specialized contraptions, such as Polynesian quadrangular adzes, multifaceted stone blades used by ancient Hawaiians to cut wood. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 17 June 2024 Marks on the wooden boats were consistent with microscopic wear patterns on the adzes’ surfaces. Paul Smaglik, Discover Magazine, 20 Mar. 2024 The shipbuilders probably constructed the whole vessel without the use of a single saw blade, employing instead axes and adzes, mallets and wedges. William Booth, Washington Post, 11 June 2023 Thirteen-year-old Chulhs Bates brandished an adze and hopped back and forth on the half-hollowed log. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2021 The fixed head of the axe features a pick and usually a horizontal adze. Chris Meehan, Popular Mechanics, 26 Jan. 2023 At Schöneck, the lower leg bones of most of the young men showed a nearly identical pattern of blunt force breakage probably made by the Neolithic weapon of choice, the ax-like adze. Hillary Waterman, Discover Magazine, 2 Jan. 2019 It’s as if she’s been carved like an archetypal totem, but with matte and glossy house paint, charcoal and oil paint on canvas rather than with a chisel or an adze from stone or wood. Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2022 The pallets with firefighting equipment—chainsaws, shovels, beaters, Pulaskis (combination ax-adze tools)—are dropping into the landing zone. Mark Jenkins, National Geographic, 12 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adze.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English adse, adese, going back to Old English adesa, of obscure origin

Note: There are no forms directly comparable to Old English adesa in Germanic. See the lengthy but inconclusive discussion of the word in Anatoly Liberman, An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), pp. 1-3.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adze was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near adze

Cite this Entry

“Adze.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also adz
: a cutting tool that has a thin arched blade set at right angles to the handle and is used chiefly for shaping wood

More from Merriam-Webster on adze

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