\ˈaks \
variants: or axe

Definition of ax 

(Entry 1 of 6)

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

Definition of ax (Entry 2 of 6)

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 6)

1 axiom

2 axis


biographical name
\ˈaks \

Definition of Ax (Entry 4 of 6)

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

This ol’ battle ax is gonna be around a lot longer. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: ‘Full Frontal’ host Samantha Bee on Recode Decode," 1 Oct. 2018 Smooth versus not-so-smooth The TPR pedals offer three control axes. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Thrustmaster TPR: The best flight sim pedals you can buy in a store like a normal person," 23 Sep. 2018 Interestingly, because this summer’s eclipses occur on two different axes (Cancer-Capricorn and Leo-Aquarius, respectively) the upcoming eclipses will have different impacts on your birth chart. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner's Guide to Eclipses in 2018 and How They Can Affect Your Life," 16 July 2018 The next day is where the literal axes come into play. Mallorie Sullivan,, "'The Bachelorette': Jean Blanc gets sent home after one of the most awkward moments ever," 18 June 2018 Taliesin is also where the scandal-prone architect’s mistress was murdered, along with six others, by an ax-wielding servant who set fire to the house while Wright was in Chicago working on the now-defunct Midway Gardens. Lori Rackl,, "New Frank Lloyd Wright trail unveiled: 13 sites from Rockford to Springfield," 7 May 2018 A half dozen mutants start attacking him with axes and bats, while one hangs back, firing some kind of machine gun. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Fallout 76 journal, day 3: in search of friends and fun," 20 Nov. 2018 By the time that the wave of massacres — carried out mostly with machetes, axes, spears, and bows and arrows — ebbed in mid-March, roughly 120 communities, including Tche, had been attacked. Nick Turse, Teen Vogue, "The Democratic Republic of Congo Has Humanitarian Crises Leaving Millions of Children In Danger," 14 Nov. 2018 The cast of Monster in the Hall, a play with songs that will run at Inis Nua in October, will lead an all-comers jam session, so bring your ax. John Timpane,, "InterAct invites dogs to explore the theater as part of its June-a-Palooza festival," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Along with its staff reductions, GM is also axing several of its passenger cars. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "GM axes Volt, Cruze, and Impala for North America in cost-cutting move," 26 Nov. 2018 Just the FAQs American Airlines has become the latest big company to say it’s axing plastic straws in the name of environmentalism. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "American Airlines is latest to ax plastic straws, stir sticks," 10 July 2018 However, after bids came in well short of the initial asking price, it's been axed spectacularly - believed to be now only around half of the original £40m sum., "Liverpool Open Talks for Bargain Transfer as Attacker’s £40m Asking Price is Slashed," 8 July 2018 Many of the jobs being axed involve call center roles that aren’t needed as more customers get their questions answered online, a person said. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Price of a Bad Year for Money Managers: Fewer Jobs, Less Pay in 2019," 19 Nov. 2018 Lauer — who was axed by NBC bosses in November for a string of inappropriate affairs — has already agreed to pay Roque, his wife of nearly 20 years, up to $20 million, Page Six can reveal. Emily Smith, Fox News, "Matt Lauer agrees to pay Annette Roque up to $20M in divorce," 15 Aug. 2018 What didn't help ease the pain for some was having former Chew star Carla Hall on Monday's premiere episode after ABC axed her past gig. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'GMA Day' Brought on Carla Hall for First Day and 'The Chew' Fans Lost Their Minds," 10 Sep. 2018 Lionel Messi demanded Vidal be axed by Barcelona after a terrible performance in the loss to cross-town rivals Espanyol a week a go., "Sevilla Lead Race for Barcelona Outcast But Cannot Agree on Fee as Los Rojiblancos Weigh Up Options," 24 Jan. 2018 Lopetegui was axed by the Spanish federation with the team already in Russia after agreeing a deal to become the Real Madrid coach next season. Martyn Wood,, "Cherchesov: Russia win over Spain 'is only the beginning'," 1 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


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


see ax entry 1

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Statistics for ax

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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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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