\ 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 First, there was the jock era: Everyone was throwing axes and smashing things in rage rooms. Naomi Tomky, Fortune, "Bars and Restaurants Around the Country Are Turning Into Classrooms," 27 Dec. 2019 The job might even become permanent if the ax recently fell or a pink slip landed on your desk. Mildred L. Culp, Houston Chronicle, "Lost your job? Pinched? Do a side hustle," 25 Jan. 2020 While GlenOak definitely played like a team with an ax to grind in winning its district crown, the Bulldogs have been focused on earning a trip to Columbus since the beginning of the season. Joe Magill, cleveland, "Surprising Norton proves ‘anything can happen’; Who wins Division I at Canton? OHSAA girls basketball regional preview," 2 Mar. 2020 Investigators say Erickson and McKinney used cocaine at Erickson’s house before hacking into his parents’ gun safe with an ax and crowbar. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, "Colorado teen pleads guilty in school shooting that left fellow student dead, 8 others injured," 7 Feb. 2020 Security footage released by police shows two hooded figures entering the room, then smashing open the glass case with an ax. David Rising, Anchorage Daily News, "Thieves steal ‘priceless’ jewel sets from German museum," 25 Nov. 2019 Please, have the players carry the ODK Sportsmanship Trophy off the field after the actual football game like the Golden Egg or Paul Bunyan’s ax. Creg Stephenson |, al, " All-Access: In which I attempt to discuss basketball," 13 Feb. 2020 The ax shows that humans lived there before the eruption because it was found buried beneath the volcanic rocks. Colin Barras, Science | AAAS, "Is an Aboriginal tale of an ancient volcano the oldest story ever told?," 11 Feb. 2020 Epic Axe Houston - a mobile axe throwing experience startup - will present activities for adults interested in learning how to throw axes and prepare for the local axe-throwing tournament scene. Houston Chronicle, "Dec. 26-Jan. 7: Ring in the New Year with these northwest Houston events," 23 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb We were stunned by the revelation, torn up by the fact that Grey’s Anatomy was axing yet another of its fixtures. Ineye Komonibo,, "Grey’s Anatomy Fans Are Ready To Riot After That Alex Karev Twist," 6 Mar. 2020 Sinclair Broadcast Group is axing one of its biggest stars, Boris Epshteyn, the network's chief political analyst and a former special assistant to President Donald Trump. NBC News, "Sinclair drops Boris Epshteyn and other political analysts," 11 Dec. 2019 Now comes word that there’s been more turbulence in the genre: THR has confirmed that Access has axed six to 10 editors. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Access Hollywood' Axes Staff Editors in Wake of EP Rob Silverstein's Exit," 14 Aug. 2019 Switzerland banned all events with more than a thousand attendees, which instantly axed the Geneva Motor Show. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus Is Causing a Global Panic—but That’s a Good Thing," 2 Mar. 2020 There are several areas in the Upper Copper Basin that were hydro-axed to stimulate willow growth for better moose browse, which is one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "A snowy winter can make things harder for some of Alaska’s moose," 15 Feb. 2020 Other season four storylines to watch out for include the fallout of Scarlett magazine's axing their print version, as many publications have done in recent years, as well as Kat's journey accepting her sexuality. NBC News, "Katie Stevens on the candid sexuality of 'The Bold Type'," 30 Jan. 2020 After the Tokyo close Thursday, Nissan Motor axed its full-year dividend following a poor quarterly sales performance. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Nissan and Renault Want Merger Benefits Without Merging," 14 Feb. 2020 When the economy tanked, then-City Manager Mary Suhm axed the thing entirely. Robert Wilonsky, Dallas News, "Dallas is creating an $11 million broadcast studio at Fair Park. Now it has to figure out why.," 14 Feb. 2020

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

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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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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