hew

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

chop (down), cut (down), fell, mow

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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.

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

Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar took office the same year and the other five have all been there for less time, hewing more closely to the model set by Obama. Jennifer Epstein, Fortune, "Why Joe Biden’s Decades in the Senate Could Hurt His 2020 Presidential Bid," 23 June 2019 Another of Portugal’s cookbook mainstays, Vítor Sobral has opened modestly priced, casual tascas in Lisbon and Brazil that hew closer to traditional flavors yet with lightness and flair, such as Azorean tuna with mango, peppers, and pennyroyal. Anne Farrar, National Geographic, "Here’s why everyone is going to Portugal now," 18 June 2019 Lightning Ridge is famous for yielding fossils hewn from often brightly colored opal, a gemstone that forms over long periods from the concentration of silica-rich solutions underground. John Pickrell, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Gem-like fossils reveal stunning new dinosaur species," 3 June 2019 The result, though, is that Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Clinton's case, but hewed closely to the rules for Trump. Author: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos, Anchorage Daily News, "A secret mission, a code name and anxiety: Inside the early days of the FBI’s Trump investigation," 2 Feb. 2018 Inside and Out History and science take lyrical turns in two books of essays, both by poets, that hew to your literary tastes. Nicole Lamy, New York Times, "Books New and Old for the Would-Be Time Traveler," 1 May 2018 The term of the current government expires on May 22 under provisions of Afghanistan’s constitution, and Mr. Ghani has insisted on hewing to that deadline. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghan Official Raises Prospect of Postponing April Presidential Vote," 26 Dec. 2018 Artemis wasn't as well received as Weir's first novel, but like The Martian, much of its charm lies is the world-building that hews as closely as possible to scientific fact. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "'Artemis' by Andy Weir Is Getting the Movie Treatment," 17 July 2018 This moment in history teaches us that democracy has always implicitly depended on political leaders hewing to democratic norms rather than sowing antagonism against society’s vulnerable for political gain and labeling press criticism as fake news. Marc J. Hetherington, Vox, "How you think about raising children says a lot about your political views," 29 Nov. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near hew

heurt

Heusler alloy

hevea

hew

HEW

hewettite

hewgag

Statistics for hew

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hew

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

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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

Medical Definition of HEW

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

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More from Merriam-Webster on hew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hew

Spanish Central: Translation of hew

Nglish: Translation of hew for Spanish Speakers

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