\ ˈaks How to pronounce ax (audio) \
variants: or axe
plural axes

Definition of ax

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a cutting tool that consists of a heavy edged head fixed to a handle with the edge parallel to the handle and that is used especially for felling trees and chopping and splitting wood
2 : a hammer with a sharp edge for dressing (see dress entry 1 sense 6e) or spalling stone
3 informal
a : removal from office or release from employment : dismissal usually used with the Employees with poor evaluations got the ax.Trump quickly gave him the ax [=fired him] for his incompetence.— Laura Petrecca
b : abrupt elimination or severe reduction of something Unlimited expense accounts, signing bonuses, and office plants—all are getting the ax [=being cut or eliminated] thanks to corporate cost-cutting measures.— Amanda Hinnant No party was brave enough to offend its supporters by taking an axe to [=severely reducing] expenditure.The Economist
4 slang : any of several musical instruments (such as a guitar or a saxophone)
ax to grind
: an ulterior often selfish underlying purpose claims that he has no ax to grind in criticizing the proposed law


variants: or axe
axed; axing; axes

Definition of ax (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to shape, dress (see dress entry 1 sense 6e), or trim with an ax ax stone
b : to chop, split, or sever with an ax ax branches from a tree
2 informal : to remove abruptly (as from employment or from a budget) The TV program was axed from the new schedule.

Definition of ax (Entry 3 of 4)

1 axiom
2 axis


biographical name
\ ˈaks How to pronounce Ax (audio) \

Definition of Ax (Entry 4 of 4)

Emanuel 1949–     American (Ukrainian-born of Polish parents) pianist

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Examples of ax in a Sentence

Noun the company was hemorrhaging money, so 700 employees would soon be given the ax Verb The boss told him that he had been axed. the boss will ax anyone who leaks company secrets
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Host Restaurants opened Avalon Steak & Seafood down the Atlantic Avenue block in February, while Throw Social, a Washington, D.C.-based live-music gastropub, ax-throwing bar and entertainment village, will open there in late August. Phillip Valys,, 9 July 2021 The marauders entered the house and took an ax to the family piano. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 1 June 2021 Almost five years ago a 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan wounded four people with an ax on a train near Wuerzburg. Frank Jordans, Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 The 25-year-old suspect drove to her home, near 2000 Robins Avenue, and entered while carrying an ax. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 May 2021 While Kong was obviously disadvantaged in their ocean battle, this time he is armed with an ax that appears to have been used by his ancestors to fight Godzilla. Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 One person who was arrested, a 15-year-old boy from Alexandria, was also accused of carrying an ax. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2021 The chamber where the deer carvings are located held the remains of up to ten people, some of them cremated, as well as a whetstone, a greenstone ax and a flint knife. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 June 2021 They had been stabbed a total of 143 times with an ice pick, an ax and a knife. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Golf simulators are part of a broader sector that was gaining in popularity before the pandemic, offering everything from shuffleboard and table tennis to ax throwing. Ryan Ori,, 29 June 2021 Located at the Arboretum of South Barrington, Bullseye offers patrons a chance to ax throw and dine by offering the full menus from nearby Mago Grill and Cantina and Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria & Pub. Kathy Cichon,, 30 Apr. 2021 It was written up as the end of an era when then-House Speaker John Boehner teamed with then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to ax the House Page Program. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, 26 Apr. 2021 The chain saw-and-ax-wielding women note they are held to the same standards as the men, physically and otherwise, and that the public should be aware that men and women of the department work together to help people. Anila Yoganathan,, 11 Apr. 2021 The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded and used a Halligan tool and ax to extricate him, Chief Daryl Osby said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 23 Feb. 2021 Then, around 5,000 B.C., craftsmen in Eastern Europe and the Near East began to purify copper ore by burning it in charcoal fires and pouring it into ceramic molds to form chisels, ax heads and other tools. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, 22 Dec. 2020 Sheriff Salazar said Castillo used a hatchet or ax during the attack. Jacob Beltran,, 16 Dec. 2020 From Kathleen Pender: Credit card issuers ax some perks, add others in response to pandemic. Anna Buchmann,, 9 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ax.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ax


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ax

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English æcs; akin to Old High German ackus ax, Latin ascia, Greek axinē

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Time Traveler for ax

Time Traveler

The first known use of ax was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for ax



English Language Learners Definition of ax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a tool that has a heavy metal blade and a long handle and that is used for chopping wood



English Language Learners Definition of ax (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut or remove (something)
: to fire (someone)


variants: or axe \ ˈaks \

Kids Definition of ax

: a tool that has a heavy head with a sharp edge fixed to a handle and is used for chopping and splitting wood



Medical Definition of ax


More from Merriam-Webster on ax

Nglish: Translation of ax for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ax for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ax


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