\ 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


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

The defense argued that the officers were targeted by an overzealous government that built its case largely on the lies of drug dealers who had an ax to grind. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police officers lose appeal: ‘They were dirty cops’," 13 June 2019 Arya has an ax to grind with Cersei and the combat skills to defeat Jaime. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "All the Game of Thrones Fan Theories You Need to Read Before Season 8 Premieres," 8 Mar. 2019 The other two axes are the toe brakes, which are actuated by moving the bottom-pivoting stirrups forward (much like pressing a car’s accelerator or brake pedals). Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Thrustmaster TPR: The best flight sim pedals you can buy in a store like a normal person," 23 Sep. 2018 In 1976, two US Army officers were killed in Korea’s demilitarized zone as a group of North Korean soldiers wielding axes and metal pikes attacked US and South Korean soldiers., "This day in history," 18 Aug. 2019 His ax handle is a 17-foot-long tree sapling with all of the bark removed. Deanna Weniger, Twin Cities, "Big sale: MPCA’s 17-foot-tall Paul Bunyan statue auctioned at State Fair," 17 Aug. 2019 Think of it as a three-dimensional version of the origin point in a Cartesian plane, where the X and Y axes cross. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Apple Puts the AR in 'Art' (and in 'Transparent Sky-Being')," 16 Aug. 2019 Swords, axes, darts, clubs, feet and fists fly as Xin beats assorted robbers, assassins, soldiers and turncoat generals. Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Kingdom’s’ sword-wielding manga heroes go to war in a thrilling flurry of action," 15 Aug. 2019 In one variation, the three arrows are replaced by three axes – suggesting support for the Timbers as well. Fox News, "Antifa’s ‘Iron Front’ symbol banned by Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders," 11 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

So Cleveland axed a starting tackle for a player claimed off the waiver wire? Mark Inabinett |, al, "Why did the Browns cut Greg Robinson?," 1 Sep. 2019 The fallout from allegations of data manipulation continues at drug giant Novartis, with the company reportedly axing brother scientists who held high-level posts at its subsidiary AveXis, which is at the heart of the controversy. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The Fallout from Novartis’ Alleged Data Manipulation: Brainstorm Health," 14 Aug. 2019 In onshore shale, the drilling rig count in the U.S. has fallen throughout this year and major services players like Houston's Halliburton and National Oilwell Varco are both axing jobs. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Global energy workforce shifting from onshore shale to offshore," 31 July 2019 Under a deal with Mayor London Breed, the supervisors axed their plan to focus on a unified, coordinated proposal for a future ballot. Emily Fancher,, "SF Supervisor Mar to pull IPO tax from ballot, replace with similar measure," 17 July 2019 Beyond the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding at the southern border, Trump axed Obama’s emphasis on deporting immigrants with serious criminal records or who posed a national security threat. Anthony W. Fontes, The Conversation, "The long, bipartisan history of dealing with immigrants harshly," 9 July 2019 Last year, in his final year in the governor’s mansion, Scott axed just $64 million from the budget. Jim Turner,, "Florida TaxWatch calls for carving out $133 million in ‘turkeys’ from state’s 2020 budget," 6 June 2019 Scoring two goals from his first three starts for Middlesbrough, he was inexplicably axed from the first team - and didn't start another game for 'Boro., "8 Breakout Championship Stars to Watch Closely During the 2019/20 Season," 22 June 2019 Gaine lasted just 16 months on the job before he was surprisingly axed. Ben Volin,, "Is the Texans GM job really something Nick Caserio would leave for?," 11 June 2019

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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Last Updated

5 Sep 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

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