: the second vertebra of the neck on which the head and first vertebra turn as on a pivot
: any of various central, fundamental, or axial parts
botany: a plant stem
crystallography: one of several imaginary lines assumed in describing the positions of the planes by which a crystal is bounded and the positions of atoms in the structure of the crystal
: a main line of direction, motion, growth, or extension
the axis of a city
: an implied line in painting or sculpture through a composition to which elements in the composition are referred
fruit and flowers arranged about a diagonal axis
: a line actually drawn and used as the basis of measurements in an architectural or other working drawing
aviation: any of three fixed lines of reference in an aircraft that run in the longitudinal, lateral, and vertical directions, are mutually perpendicular, and usually pass through the aircraft's center of gravity
the Earth's axis of rotation
the spin of the Earth on its axis
Recent Examples on the Web
That is when the Earth's axis is tilted either toward or away from the sun, resulting in almost an equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes, according to the National Weather Service.—Elena Santa Cruz, The Arizona Republic, 5 Sep. 2023 Indeed, Russian airpower hasn’t prevented Ukraine’s counteroffensive from creeping forward several miles along three or four main axes of advances, with recent victories around Klischivka, Staromaiorske, Robotyne, Kozachi Laheri, and Urozhaine.—Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 1 Sep. 2023 Miranda’s destiny unfolds as if plotted on a graph with three axes: ethical, political, and metaphysical.—Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2023 The axis of women’s soccer has been tilting inexorably toward Western Europe for some time.—Rory Smith, New York Times, 19 Aug. 2023 On axis with the pool and stone wall is a fireplace.—Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 15 Aug. 2023 Ukrainian troops trying to advance on three main axes.—ABC News, 6 Aug. 2023
Destroying aircraft on the ground has always been an effective tactic—during World War II, commandos of the British Special Air Service mounted on jeeps destroyed more Axis warplanes on the ground in Africa than the Royal Air Force downed in the sky during the desert campaign.—Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 24 Aug. 2023 Building Tanks From Scratch Though the Axis powers had been feverishly rearming since the early 1930s, America was barely in the race.—Popular Mechanics, 17 Aug. 2023 Texas could have arranged a separate peace deal with the Axis powers during World War II.—Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, 29 July 2023 The fate of the Axis powers after World War II offers at least hope that the Russia of today may one day be as distant a memory as is the Germany of 1945.—Margaret MacMillan, Foreign Affairs, 12 June 2023 Grandfather didn’t tell stories about his Holocaust experience as a young boy, or about his time fighting against his homeland and other Axis powers.—Megan Greenwell, WIRED, 27 June 2023 His bombs destroyed Axis railroad cars and a large gasoline truck outside a depot in Trento.—Michael Wilson, New York Times, 30 Apr. 2023 Sign-Up/Onboard/Job Search Process Prospective employees can search for travel nursing jobs on the website prior to applying to the agency, though Axis’ search filters are lacking.—Riley Blanton, Verywell Health, 23 Mar. 2023 He was held in a U.S. Army internment camp in Louisiana with other enemy aliens from the Axis powers of Japan, Germany and Italy during most of the war.—Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'axis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English, "imaginary line passing through the center of a body, celestial axis," borrowed from Latin, "axletree, axle, chariot, celestial axis," going back to Indo-European *h2eḱs- "axle," whence also, with varying thematic derivation, Germanic *ahsō (whence Old English eax "axle," Old Saxon & Old High German ahsa), Old Russian/Eastern Church Slavic osĭ "axle," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian ôs, Lithuanian ašìs, Old Prussian assis, Greek axon-, áxōn, Sanskrit ákṣaḥ, Avestan aša- "armpit"
The Indo-European base *h2eḱs- also has derivatives with a suffixal l, for which see ala, axletree; compare also Welsh echel "axle, pivot," Breton ahel, which may go back to *akselā. The various thematic forms and extensions of h2eḱs- may reflect a root noun rather than an i-stem as in Latin; see E. Hamp, "Refining Indo-European Lexical Entries," Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung, 95. Band, 1. Heft (1981), pp. 81-83. The original meaning of the noun may have been "shoulder joint"—if so, Avestan would be the only language to preserve this sense. It has been suggested that *h2eḱs- was formed by a "root extension" -s- from the verbal base *h2eǵ- "drive (cattle, etc.), set in motion (see agent).
: a straight line about which a body or a geometric figure rotates or may be thought of as rotating
: a straight line with respect to which a body, organ, or figure is symmetrical
: the second vertebra of the neck of the higher vertebrates that is prolonged anteriorly within the foramen of the first vertebra and united with the dens which serves as a pivot for the atlas and head to turn upon
: any of various central, fundamental, or axial parts