\ 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 Then shred the rough surfaces, striking horizontally with a broad ax. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Unleash the Log With These Two Natural Wood Bench Builds," 24 Apr. 2021 Several other poaching suspects armed with hunting rifles and an ax were arrested by authorities, as the park continues to crack down on criminal activity in the country that sees a rhino killed every day. Washington Post, "Elephants trample suspected rhino poacher to death in South African national park," 20 Apr. 2021 Either way, it can be added to Google Graveyard, joining the likes of Loon, Google Play Music, Google Daydream, Inbox by Gmail, Google+, Google Allo, Chromecast Audio, and all of the other apps, services, and devices that have gotten the ax. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Google is killing another one of its apps, but this one probably deserves to die," 12 Apr. 2021 And to be able to return to this music, just to enjoy it with no ax to grind was... Los Angeles Times, "Leslie Jordan’s gospel album is a hoedown so fabulous that even Dolly Parton shows up," 4 Apr. 2021 Swing the ax with your whole body, and always spread your legs to avoid cleaving one of your feet. Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Collect Firewood," 23 Mar. 2021 Efforts to crack down on vaccine misinformation now, though, are generating cries of censorship and prompting some posters to adopt sneaky tactics to avoid the ax., "Defying rules, anti-vaccine accounts thrive on social media," 12 Mar. 2021 And survivors are becoming more visible: Margarita Gracheva, whose husband chopped off her hands with an ax in 2017, has become a household name, regularly appearing in the media, including on state-run TV. Madeline Roache, Time, "Russia's Leaders Won't Deal With a Domestic Violence Epidemic. These Women Stepped Up Instead," 3 Mar. 2021 In the video, a man wearing a mask is seen casually walking up to the office via the city's downtown skyway system with an ax over his shoulder like Paul Bunyan. Kim Hyatt, Star Tribune, "Ax-wielding man attacks Sen. Hoeven's downtown Fargo office," 24 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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,, "Indoor ax throwing takes off in the suburbs," 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, "Turley: Boehner and Pelosi blew it by killing House Page Program," 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,, "These women excel as Florida firefighters in male-dominated profession," 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, "Tiger Woods 'calm,' 'lucid' when police arrived following rollover car crash in California," 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, "‘The Age of Wood’ Review: How to Carve a Civilization," 22 Dec. 2020 Sheriff Salazar said Castillo used a hatchet or ax during the attack. Jacob Beltran,, "'To make an example of her': Suspect allegedly dismembered woman while she was still alive," 16 Dec. 2020 From Kathleen Pender: Credit card issuers ax some perks, add others in response to pandemic. Anna Buchmann,, "Bay Briefing: Biden and Harris look ahead after making history," 9 Nov. 2020 Bentley Motors will ax the roaring 12-cylinder combustion engines that shaped much of the British luxury-car maker’s 100-year history to focus on electric vehicles, the latest seismic automotive shift driven by stricter emissions rules. Christoph Rauwald, Fortune, "Bentley to switch from roaring 12-cylinder cars to electrics," 5 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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Statistics for ax

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ax

Nglish: Translation of ax for Spanish Speakers

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

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