hew

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

Definition of hew

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cut with blows of a heavy cutting instrument roughly hewn logs
2 : to cut down by blows of an ax hew a tree
3 : 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

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

Definition of HEW (Entry 2 of 2)

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

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Other Words from hew

Verb

hewer noun

Synonyms for hew

Synonyms: Verb

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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.

Examples of hew in a Sentence

Verb They hewed logs to build a cabin. The walls are built of stones hewn by skilled craftsmen.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Employers have the right to ask for supporting documentation, but employees’ religious beliefs don’t have to hew to any specific or organized faith. Mark Kreidler, Quartz, 10 Sep. 2021 Employers have the right to ask for supporting documentation, but employees’ religious beliefs don’t have to hew to any specific or organized faith. Dallas News, 10 Sep. 2021 Employers have the right to ask for supporting documentation, but employees' religious beliefs don't have to hew to any specific or organized faith. Mark Kreidler, CNN, 9 Sep. 2021 Employers have the right to ask for supporting documentation, but employees’ religious beliefs don’t have to hew to any specific or organized faith. Los Angeles Times, 3 Sep. 2021 There’s no worrying about pesky reporters asking embarrassing questions or having to hew to arbitrary time limits for panels. Josef Adalian, Vulture, 26 Aug. 2021 Even the best employees may want—or may need—to hew closely to their job descriptions. Forbes, 18 June 2021 The desserts mostly hew to Spanish Diner’s comfort theme. Washington Post, 9 July 2021 Mark Mellman, who heads the Democratic Majority for Israel, a group that backs Democrats who hew to a more traditional pro-Israel line, said his job hasn’t been made easier by the perception that Netanyahu is in the Republicans’ pocket. Ron Kampeas, sun-sentinel.com, 2 June 2021

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.

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First Known Use of hew

Verb

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

History and Etymology for hew

Verb

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

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Time Traveler for hew

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

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Dictionary Entries Near hew

HEW

hew

hewettite

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Statistics for hew

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hew.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hew. Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for hew

hew

verb

English Language Learners Definition of hew

: to shape (something) by cutting with a sharp tool (such as an ax)

hew

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

Kids Definition of hew

1 : to chop down hew trees
2 : to shape by cutting with an ax hew logs

HEW

abbreviation

Medical Definition of HEW

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

More from Merriam-Webster on hew

Nglish: Translation of hew for Spanish Speakers

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