\ ˈaks \
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 \

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


the company was hemorrhaging money, so 700 employees would soon be given the ax


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

Kick back, throw an ax and … have a beer in Newington? Kathleen Mcwilliams, Courant Community, "Newington Ax Throwing Venue Looks For Approval To Serve Alcohol," 16 Apr. 2018 Of course, the trick to robotic companionship isn't just axes of movement and OLED eyes. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Sony's Adorable Robot Dog Is Back—And Expensive," 23 Aug. 2018 Trump’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame has been subjected to repeat acts of vandalism, with one protester going so far as to smash it with a pick ax last month. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Anti-Trump vandalism sweeps country: Yacht, Hollywood star latest targets," 9 Aug. 2018 This is an ax taken to this with collateral damage all around the place. Matt Viser,, "Trump tariffs could backfire on Mass. cranberry growers," 21 Mar. 2018 Thirty-eight-year-old Jerry Lucey was carrying a flat-head ax. Sean Flynn, Esquire, "The Perfect Fire," 9 Mar. 2017 Not that the 48-year-old painter has any kind of political ax to grind. David Colman, ELLE Decor, "Art Show: Fred Tomaselli," 1 Nov. 2010 There, police found physical evidence, such as a bloodstained ax and a machete, according to copies of the case files reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Mexicans, Hit by Murder Wave, Face Long, Often Futile Wait for Justice," 25 Dec. 2018 Folded stacks of colorful fabrics line the vestibule walls between tribal dancers’ masks and the lustrous sculpture of an ancient tumi ax used in the sacrificial ceremonies. Craig Laban,, "At Vista Peru, a view of promise, pisco and problems," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Google and Amazon both killed their Apple Watch apps, and Instagram and Twitter were axed too. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Spotify starts testing its Apple Watch app," 2 Nov. 2018 Klinsmann, the former United States coach who was axed after a terrible start to the final round of qualifying, is top of the list of contenders to for the Japan job, according to Sports Nippon and Daily Sports, both national sports newspapers. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Reports: Jurgen Klinsmann a top candidate for Japan coaching job," 3 July 2018 Subsequently, the Three Lions boss axed the country's vice-captain from his latest squad due to his lack of game time at Stamford Bridge, putting both his World Cup spot and international future in jeopardy., "Antonio Conte Confirms Gary Cahill Chelsea Starting Spot in Bid to Reach World Cup Squad," 28 Apr. 2018 That deal is dead, according to Icelandic paper Fréttablaðið, which reports that the agreement was axed after neither airline could come to an agreement on purchase conditions. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Is Wow Air—and Its $99 Flights—Going Away?," 30 Nov. 2018 Along with its staff reductions, GM is also axing several of its passenger cars. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "GM axes Volt, Cruze, and Impala for North America in cost-cutting move," 26 Nov. 2018 Just the FAQs American Airlines has become the latest big company to say it’s axing plastic straws in the name of environmentalism. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "American Airlines is latest to ax plastic straws, stir sticks," 10 July 2018 However, after bids came in well short of the initial asking price, it's been axed spectacularly - believed to be now only around half of the original £40m sum., "Liverpool Open Talks for Bargain Transfer as Attacker’s £40m Asking Price is Slashed," 8 July 2018 Many of the jobs being axed involve call center roles that aren’t needed as more customers get their questions answered online, a person said. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Price of a Bad Year for Money Managers: Fewer Jobs, Less Pay in 2019," 19 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for ax

Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for ax

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

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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


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More from Merriam-Webster on ax

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ax

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ax

Spanish Central: Translation of ax

Nglish: Translation of ax for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on ax

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excited commotion or publicity

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