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variants or ax
plural axes
: 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
: a hammer with a sharp edge for dressing (see dress entry 1 sense 6e) or spalling stone
: 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
: 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
slang : any of several musical instruments (such as a guitar or a saxophone)


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variants or ax
axed; axing; axes

transitive verb

: to shape, dress (see dress entry 1 sense 6e), or trim with an axe
axe stone
: to chop, split, or sever with an axe
axe branches from a tree
informal : to remove abruptly (as from employment or from a budget)
The TV program was axed from the new schedule.
axe to grind
: an ulterior often selfish underlying purpose
claims that he has no axe to grind in criticizing the proposed law

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
The Thunder Valley tour stop for this megalodon includes Southern Rock axe titan and Gov’t Mule head honcho Warren Haynes and his band, along with the enigmatic Samantha Fish and the ever-prodigious Eric Gales (7 p.m. Friday, July 12. Aaron Davis, Sacramento Bee, 30 June 2024 Through Iron Ocean, Biel and Purple also served as EPs on Candy, the limited series starring Biel as axe murderer Candy Montgomery, which had the best debut of any Hulu title since the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale hit the platform in May 2021. Matt Grobar, Deadline, 13 June 2024 This is what the forests that cloak the surrounding mountains and valleys looked like before the axe and the chainsaw. Alexis Marie Adams, Scientific American, 19 Mar. 2024 During the scuffle, Zhang removes an axe from the sacred tree, inadvertently giving all the humans in the cave (and elsewhere) the Sick. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 10 June 2024 While weakened, Haymitch returned to the cliff and collapsed right before the District 1 female threw her axe at him. Dina Kaur, The Arizona Republic, 6 June 2024 To keep up to date with which shows will get made and which have already gotten the axe, here’s a guide to the status of every Game of Thrones spinoff series. Moises Mendez Ii, TIME, 10 June 2024 What was Haymitch’s Hunger Games like? Haymitch won the Second Quarter Quell by using the force field at the edge of the arena as a tool for killing the District 1 tribute with her own axe. Dina Kaur, The Arizona Republic, 6 June 2024 Gusts of wind scream through the high desert here, and Kildall eyes individual Joshua trees with the eagerness of a kid at Guitar Center, ready to pick out an axe. Christopher Intagliata, NPR, 3 June 2024
Whenever someone speaks of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining, most likely the first image that pops into your mind is Duvall's frightful reaction when Jack Nicholson axes the bathroom door. Rendy Jones,, 12 July 2024 More than 100 pounds was axed versus its Zonda S predecessor — not easy, considering that the car weighed 2,816 pounds dry. Will Sabel Courtney, Robb Report, 2 July 2024 Li was also stripped of his title as state councilor at the time, a rare move — officials from the inner circle of the ruling Communist Party are seldom axed. Yuliya Talmazan, NBC News, 27 June 2024 In the case of the European layoffs, Amazon said it was required in some countries to notify staff in a group setting that a restructuring may involve roles being eliminated, but contended that employees wouldn’t have learned there which specific positions were being axed. Seamus Webster, Fortune, 6 June 2024 After axing the rover due to cost concerns, NASA added two helicopters to the retrieval mission. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 16 Apr. 2024 Listen to this article Mission Viejo councilmembers axed plans for a new Department of Motor Vehicles location in the Kaleidoscope shopping mall over traffic and safety concerns. Annika Bahnsen, Orange County Register, 17 June 2024 Pisciotta says she was eventually promoted to Chief of Staff for his multiple companies, with a $4 million salary, prior to being axed in October 2022. Jami Ganz, New York Daily News, 4 June 2024 Earlier this year, Apple axed its self-driving car project, laying off 600 people in the process. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 3 May 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'axe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English æcs; akin to Old High German ackus ax, Latin ascia, Greek axinē

First Known Use


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


circa 1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near axe

Cite this Entry

“Axe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

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