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

Definition of axe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 axe.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)
axe to grind
: an ulterior often selfish underlying purpose claims that he has no axe to grind in criticizing the proposed law


variants: or ax
axed; axing; axes

Definition of axe (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to shape, dress (see dress entry 1 sense 6e), or trim with an axe axe stone
b : to chop, split, or sever with an axe axe 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.

Examples of axe 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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ward has no ax to grind and no dissertation to sell. Rebecca Coffey, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Either way, they were killed, with a wood ax from the shed. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 27 Apr. 2022 The bar, which also has ax throwing, is located at 230 E. Pittsburgh Ave. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 Town officials are eager for developer Ranger Properties to renovate the 20-acre Collins Co. ax factory complex before more of its deteriorating, abandoned brick buildings crumble. Don Stacom, Hartford Courant, 19 Apr. 2022 Likewise, the more intense the task, the longer and heavier an ax should be. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 18 Apr. 2022 Torres captured the incident in a video that shows a man swinging an ax at the drum set as Torres backs away. Christian Martinezstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2022 An argument between two men in Little Rock on Tuesday afternoon ended when one injured the other with a double-sided ax, police said. Brianna Kwasnik, Arkansas Online, 31 Mar. 2022 Last weekend at least seven straphangers were assaulted, including a man who narrowly escaped an assailant swinging an ax, according to the New York Post. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 8 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the decision to ax the comedy was made months ago after the now fourth season and ultimate series finale aired back in December. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Apr. 2022 Irwin didn’t ax all of Patrick Henry’s advanced courses. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 Her father also worked as a blacksmith and made baskets and ax handles. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 Noting Germany's decision last month to freeze the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Novak said Russia could ax the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline – considered one of Europe's main sources of natural gas. Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, 8 Mar. 2022 The cancellations come after a week of travel chaos over the holidays that saw airlines ax thousands of flights, with some blaming the spread of omicron among crew and other staff. NBC News, 29 Dec. 2021 SkyWest, a major partner for United, Delta, American and Alaska, has had among the heaviest flight cancellations in the past couple of weeks as airlines tend to ax those regional flights first. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, 7 Jan. 2022 The Mayo Clinic has faced some backlash over its policy, with 38 lawmakers signing a letter to the hospital last month asking it to ax the rule. NBC News, 5 Jan. 2022 Among the artifacts returned were 913 ground and flax stones and ax heads dated to the Neolithic period. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of axe


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


circa 1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for axe

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 axe

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Axe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on axe

Nglish: Translation of axe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of axe for Arabic Speakers


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