hew

play
verb \ˈhyü\

Definition of hew

hewed

hewed

or

hewn

play \ˈhyün\

hewing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to cut with blows of a heavy cutting instrument

  3. 2 :  to fell by blows of an ax <hew a tree>

  4. 3 :  to give form or shape to with or as if with heavy cutting blows <hewed their farms from the wilderness — J. T. Shotwell>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to make cutting blows

  7. 2 :  conform, adhere <hew to tradition> —often used in the phrase hew to the line <no pressure … on newspapers to hew to the official line — New York Times Magazine>

hewer

noun

Examples of hew in a sentence

  1. They hewed logs to build a cabin.

  2. The walls are built of stones hewn by skilled craftsmen.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of hew

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 12th century


HEW

abbreviation

Definition of HEW

  1. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare



HEW Defined for English Language Learners

hew

play
verb \ˈhyü\

Definition of hew for English Language Learners

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


HEW Defined for Kids

hew

play
verb \ˈhyü\

Definition of hew for Students

hewed

or

hewn

\ˈhyün\

hewing

  1. 1 :  to chop down <hew trees>

  2. 2 :  to shape by cutting with an ax <hew logs>


Medical Dictionary

HEW

abbreviation

Medical Definition of HEW

  1. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare


Learn More about hew


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up hew? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to strike by flicking the finger outward

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog-cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ