\ 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

Moore took a gun, Holmes took a knife and Watts brought an ax, Pettus testified. Ashley Remkus |,, "8 charged in burglary and stabbing death of 21-year-old in Madison," 5 June 2019 The veteran rockers plugged in to perform a dueling-axes version of the National Anthem prior to tip off, with Hammett taking the lead. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett Rock the National Anthem Ahead of NBA Finals Game 3: Watch," 5 June 2019 According to a memo from CEO Jim Hackett published by the Detroit Free Press, only 500 people are getting the ax right now. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Ford Announces Layoffs, Will Cut 7000 Global White-Collar Jobs," 20 May 2019 Ultimately, this didn't happen, but all signs point to Dany getting the ax in next week's series finale, most likely at the hands of Arya Stark. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "You Might’ve Missed This Character Trying to Poison Dany on Last Night’s Game of Thrones," 13 May 2019 Toto said most of the damage was caused by smoke and firefighters’ axes. Michael Klein,, "Branzino, the Italian BYOB in Rittenhouse, reopening after fire," 30 Mar. 2018 HP New for 2019: The Sure Sense security agent As many business notebooks do, HP has innovated on two axes: improving the hardware, as well as building in additional software and services. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "HP's EliteBook 800 G6 notebook series adds convenience, privacy features," 16 Apr. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If Rosenstein is removed from the FBI, Trump could replace him with someone more willing to ax the special counsel. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Rod Rosenstein’s high-wire act," 22 Sep. 2018 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

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

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


to take the place or position of

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