\ 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

Before that, the most famous incident at Panmunjom happened in 1976, when ax-wielding North Korean soldiers killed two U.S. officers sent out to trim a tree that obstructed the view from a checkpoint. Washington Post, "DMZ, where Trump met Kim, is a vestige of Cold War," 30 June 2019 That was in May 2009; a month later, in anticipation of Father’s Day, the fledgling brand sold out its stock (100 axes) in an hour. Jonny Diamond, Longreads, "Lumbersexuality, a Sport and a Pastime," 8 June 2019 The venue has 10 ax throwing lanes enclosed by lumber, steel and wired mesh. Sandra Gomez-aceves, Courant Community, "Ax Throwing Arrives In Hartford This Week With Opening of Pine And Iron," 29 May 2018 Looking like a giant gyroscope, the 70-foot-tall Cyborg Cyber Spin coming to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will toss passengers unmercifully as the ride spins along three different axes. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "The most anticipated theme park attractions of 2018," 17 Jan. 2018 Words about valuing the perspectives of marginalized groups in Hollywood have to be held accountable through actions: individuals and groups taking risks, sharing power, and acknowledging intersecting axes of inequality. Alice Wong, Teen Vogue, "Disabled People Still Aren't Being Cast to Tell Their Own Stories in Hollywood," 8 Jan. 2018 Moore took a gun, Holmes took a knife and Watts brought an ax, Pettus testified. Ashley Remkus |,, "8 charged in burglary and stabbing death of 21-year-old in Madison," 5 June 2019 The veteran rockers plugged in to perform a dueling-axes version of the National Anthem prior to tip off, with Hammett taking the lead. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett Rock the National Anthem Ahead of NBA Finals Game 3: Watch," 5 June 2019 According to a memo from CEO Jim Hackett published by the Detroit Free Press, only 500 people are getting the ax right now. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Ford Announces Layoffs, Will Cut 7000 Global White-Collar Jobs," 20 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But in a shocking turn of events that nobody expected, Rapinoe has been axed from the team for the game against Phil Neville's England - with Christen Press bought into the side., "Megan Rapinoe Shockingly Omitted From USA Lineup for World Cup Semi-Final Clash," 2 July 2019 Motta, an army general, was axed as electricity minister in April by Maduro after a series of nationwide blackouts that left some parts of the country in the dark for weeks. Washington Post, "Venezuelan ex-electric chief among 2 indicted in US," 27 June 2019 Kiefer Sutherland’s suspenseful political drama was axed by ABC after two seasons, but now finds new life in the streaming universe. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of June 2-8," 1 June 2019 In February, Netflix axed the series along with The Punisher, which had just aired its second season. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Marvel-Netflix Universe’s Final Hero," 14 June 2019 Following Lori Loughlin's alleged involvement in a massive college admissions scam, Netflix reportedly axed all plans for the actress's character, Aunt Becky, to return to the show. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Candace Cameron Bure Addressed Lori Loughlin’s Exit on ‘Fuller House’ for the First Time," 3 June 2019 If Rosenstein is removed from the FBI, Trump could replace him with someone more willing to ax the special counsel. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Rod Rosenstein’s high-wire act," 22 Sep. 2018 Countless reports have been falsely claiming that the host had been axed in light of Executive Producer Rob Silverstein leaving the program. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Did Natalie Morales Get Fired From 'Access Live'? The Truth Behind the Rumors," 21 Mar. 2019 Some lawmakers are considering axing those loopholes, passing new laws compelling Mr. Trump to act. Ian Talley, WSJ, "Will Sanctions Follow Russia Indictments? Trump Holds Sway," 22 July 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

11 Jul 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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