Definition of hew
- roughly hewn logs
- hew a tree
- hewed their farms from the wilderness
- —J. T. Shotwell
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
They hewed logs to build a cabin.
The walls are built of stones hewn by skilled craftsmen.
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.
Hew is a strong, simple word of Anglo-Saxon descent. It can suggest actual ax-wielding, or it can be figurative: "If ... our ambition hews and shapes [our] new relations, their virtue escapes, as strawberries lose their flavor in garden-beds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). It's easy to see how the figurative "shape" sense of "hew" developed from the literal hacking sense, but what does chopping have to do with adhering and conforming? That sense first appeared in the late 1800s in the phrase "hew to the line." The "hew line" is a line marked along the length of a log indicating where to chop in order to shape a beam. "Hewing to the line," literally, is cutting along the mark-adhering to it-until the side of the log is squared.
: to shape (something) by cutting with a sharp tool (such as an ax)
What made you want to look up hew? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
the quality or state of being insatiable
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