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hewed; hewed or hewn ˈhyün How to pronounce hew (audio) ; hewing

transitive verb

: to cut with blows of a heavy cutting instrument
roughly hewn logs
: to cut down by blows of an ax
hew a tree
: to give form or shape to with or as if with heavy cutting blows
hewed their farms from the wilderness J. T. Shotwell

intransitive verb

: to make cutting blows (as with an ax)
: conform, adhere
hew to tradition
often used in the phrase hew to the line
no pressure … on newspapers to hew to the official line N.Y. Times Mag.
hewer noun


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Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

Example Sentences

Verb They hewed logs to build a cabin. The walls are built of stones hewn by skilled craftsmen.
Recent Examples on the Web
The Video Game doesn’t hew too closely to the plotline of the film, but instead puts the Caped Crusader in atmospheric locations filled with tricky jumps, obstacles, and foes. PCMAG, 20 Oct. 2022 The costs in Bass’ plan broadly hew to what the city has spent on a variety of permanent and interim housing options in recent years. Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2022 But others worry that racking up huge debts that taxpayers will eventually have to pay does not hew to conservative principles. Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Sep. 2022 Historic mansions that hew to their original interiors can seem sepulchral. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, 28 July 2022 At the Freadom Festival, events will hew to a core tenet that books and reading should be inclusive and accessible. oregonlive, 31 May 2022 Trail runners flock to 51 miles of in-town trails, including miles of dirt paths that hew to the edge of the Deschutes River. Jen Rose Smith, Washington Post, 10 June 2022 Some producers hew closely to the strict model, while most others apply it in part. Ellen Bhang, BostonGlobe.com, 7 June 2022 Still, discovering a new style star among the men, where many still hew to a more classic black tie formula, feels like a rarer occurrence. Vogue, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hew.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, from Old English hēawan; akin to Old High German houwan to hew, Lithuanian kauti to forge, Latin cudere to beat

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hew was before the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near hew

Cite this Entry

“Hew.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hew. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

hewed; hewed or hewn ˈhyün How to pronounce hew (audio) ; hewing
: to chop down
hew trees
: to make or shape by cutting with an ax
a cabin built of rough-hewn logs
: to stick close to : adhere
hew to the established rules
hewer noun

Medical Definition

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

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