\ 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 theEmployees 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 Soon the hammers and pick-axes were out, precipitating the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Economist, "Climate, freedom and denial: What “Green Thatcherism” teaches us today," 22 Nov. 2019 Carmody says a more reliable funding source is crucial; tourism is usually among the first items to get the ax in midyear budget cuts., "That didn’t get far: Another budget season, another round of level funding.," 23 Oct. 2019 Check out the gallery above for our best guesses as to which shows will be renewed this season, and which will get the ax. Therese Odell, Houston Chronicle, "NBC cancels the first new show of the fall TV season," 16 Oct. 2019 Test line fisheries at Cook Inlet might be shortened and tanner crab surveys at Prince William Sound could get the ax. Anchorage Daily News, "Breaking down the Alaska budget’s impact on commercial fisheries," 3 Sep. 2019 But how should companies decide which objectionable content should stay online or get the ax? Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, "Americans lack trust in social networks’ judgment to remove offensive posts, Pew finds," 20 June 2019 To add to all this, Syrian government forces and the rebels allied with Ankara also have an ax to grind with one another after all the atrocities committed during the devastating eight-year civil war. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, "US is out of the picture in Syria-Turkey crisis. Putin now owns this mess," 20 Oct. 2019 LumberjAxes is the Valley's first ax-throwing club. Mackenzie Shuman, azcentral, "Need some stress relief? LumberjAxes opening ax-throwing venue in Glendale," 12 Sep. 2019 An 18-year-old man armed with an ax, knives and Molotov cocktails attacked his high school in Ansbach, Germany, injuring nine students and a teacher before being shot and arrested., "Today in history: September 17," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even with the County Board's budget amendment, some routes will still get axed or reconfigured. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Supervisors listen to complaints about bus route cuts," 4 Nov. 2019 And a first round of television ads has also been axed, at least in Iowa, his campaign said Wednesday., "hospitalized and had emergency surgery Tuesday night, after reporting chest pain," 3 Oct. 2019 Apple has axed 3D Touch, which was introduced in the iPhone 6S back in 2015. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max review: High quality for high prices," 26 Sep. 2019 Mancini was axed and in came Manuel Pellegrini, though Aguero again missed large periods of the season as the new coach oversaw a second title triumph, plus victory in the League Cup., "Sergio Aguero: The Man Who Painted Manchester Blue With One Kick of a Football," 18 Sep. 2019 Madrid's 4-1 hammering at home to Ajax last season saw Santiago Solari axed as head coach, with Zidane returning to the club to replace him., "Zinedine Zidane Could Face Sack After Champions League Showdown With Galatasaray," 21 Oct. 2019 In 2017, Kennedy axed directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller during production of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the prequel film, bringing in Ron Howard to finish the film. Paula Bernstein, Fortune, "Marvel’s Kevin Feige Takes on ‘Star Wars.’ What Does It Mean for a Galaxy Far Far Away?," 26 Sep. 2019 Shortly after Thursday’s final preseason games, teams will start axing dozens of players, reducing rosters from 90 players to 53 (the deadline is Saturday at 4 p.m.). Ben Volin,, "Patriots facing difficult roster decisions this week," 24 Aug. 2019 Many speculated at the time that the network axed the series over its politics — a rumor that ABC vehemently denied at the time. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "'Last Man Standing' renewed by Fox; Tim Allen 'excited' for Season 7," 11 May 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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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

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ax.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for ax


How to pronounce Ax (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ax

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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