\ 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

With their shields held overhead, soldiers would climb ladders held against the walls or rush through breaches, their arms furiously swinging two-handed broadswords and battle-axes or charging forward with long sharp pikes in front of them. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "How to Storm a Castle," 11 Apr. 2019 Most of it takes place on boats — from smoke-belching steamers to cargo-bloated barges to slender pirogues carved by ax out of massive trees. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "With Ebola at a “critical point” in Congo, aid groups scramble to limit the outbreak," 2 June 2018 The video showing several dozen masked men training in a field in military-like outfits and holding axes and rifles has drawn widespread condemnation in the small European Union nation. Ali Zerdin, Fox News, "Slovenia police arrest 2 after armed group video surfaces," 6 Sep. 2018 When former offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was found by police after posting a photo on Instagram that featured a shotgun on a bed, Martin had a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, a large knife and an ax in his car, TMZ reports. Khadrice Rollins,, "Report: Jonathan Martin Found With Loaded Shotgun, Knife, Ax After Disturbing Instagram Post," 8 Mar. 2018 Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized his taking an ax to the department. Prachi Gupta, Cosmopolitan, "9 Things to Know About Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Former Secretary of State," 13 Mar. 2017 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The Get Down, Netflix's short-lived musical series on the birth of hip-hop, might've been axed last year, but Herizen Guardiola, who starred as breakout songstress Mylene Cruz, has continued to pursue music offscreen. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Herizen's "Get High" Live Video Is a Little Dose of Happiness," 26 Oct. 2018 The stock dropped 10 percent in one day after the Washington Post reported that Twitter was axing 70 million accounts. Fox News, "Media malign Trump Europe trip," 15 July 2018 However, in a sign that the magazine industry will continue to struggle to remain relevant in the modern media era, the publication was ready for print all the way back on May 14 – two full weeks before the show was axed. Brian Flood, Fox News, "ABC exec's 'Roseanne' praise creates awkwardness at network after magazine prints quotes from before show's cancellation," 7 June 2018 Moser was 51–67 in four seasons at Illinois State when Zenger axed the coach who has gone on to lead Loyola to its first Final Four appearance since 1963. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "Kansas athletic director fired Loyola-Chicago coach Porter Moser in 2007," 25 Mar. 2018 Accordingly, the cars to be axed are all sedans, including the Cadillac CT6 and XTS, Chevy Impala, Cruze and Volt, and Buick LaCrosse. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Sedan Continues to Die as GM Cuts Production," 26 Nov. 2018 In 2014, the company made a short-lived foray into the phone business with its Fire Phone, only to get axed a year later after poor reviews. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Amazon might be working on another phone," 29 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

18 Apr 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

What made you want to look up ax? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

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