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 roughly hewn logs

  3. 2 :  to cut down 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 (as with an ax)

  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 — N.Y. Times Mag.

hewer

noun

hew was our Word of the Day on 10/19/2012. Hear the podcast!

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.

Recent Examples of hew from the Web

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.

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


HEW

abbreviation

Definition of HEW

  1. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare



HEW Defined for English Language Learners

hew

play
verb

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



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