Definition of axe in English:


(US ax)


  • 1A tool used for chopping wood, typically of iron with a steel edge and wooden handle.

    ‘I started swinging the axe at the lumps of driftwood’
    as modifier ‘an axe blade’
    • ‘They kept on hitting one man with an axe handle and it was unbearable.’
    • ‘Sighing dreadfully, he walked out of the wooden door and picked up his axe to begin chopping what he thought was enough fire wood to last for three days.’
    • ‘A variety of tools are employed for woodcarving, and these include the axe, adze, saw, drill, and hammer, all used in the preliminary stages of roughing out the wood.’
    • ‘Iron axes with steel bits were forged for the most part in American factories that manufactured them in dozen lots in a wide range of patterns.’
    • ‘In the fireplace is a wood axe with the word ‘burning’ inscribed on the handle.’
    • ‘If an axe handle was handy, that wouldn't go astray, either.’
    • ‘I got hit over the head with the axe handle and ended up in hospital.’
    • ‘The case exploded into sharp silvers and he winced as he felt his hand caught on a shard of glass as he reached for the wooden handle of the axe.’
    • ‘He threw up the axe handle and I chopped the wood almost in two.’
    • ‘He said he was beaten with an axe handle or cane, deprived of sleep, and struck on the soles of his feet until they were covered in blisters.’
    • ‘Steel axes replace stone axes, outboard motors replace sails, modern medicine replaces witch doctoring, transistor radios and cellular phones are eagerly sought.’
    • ‘In her hands she held an axe, the thick handle made of reddish wood, and the head a rusted silver, with a sharp, murderous blade.’
    • ‘Neither talked for quite a while, both just sat listening to the steady swish, chop, swish, chop, of the axe in the wood.’
    • ‘The man threatened to rob Tina's store saying he had a knife, but fled empty-handed after she whacked him with an axe handle.’
    • ‘Lucio was no where to be seen, but Marie heard the sound of an axe chopping wood outside, so she followed the sound into the cold breeze and around the side of the house.’
    • ‘Hand tools like the axe and the adze have thousands of years of history.’
    • ‘Strong iron axes, with steel cutting edges, made it much easier to fell large trees, whilst iron plough shares were more effective in cultivating the soils resulting from woodland clearance.’
    • ‘There were only two parts to an axe or hatchet, the axe head and the handle.’
    • ‘John enjoyed the outdoors, gardening, feeding wild turkeys, his dog, sawing and chopping wood with his axe and swede saw.’
    • ‘After the game finished, he was surprised to find the wooden handle of his axe had rotted.’
    hatchet, cleaver
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A measure intended to reduce costs drastically, especially one involving redundancies.
      ‘thirty staff are facing the axe at the Royal Infirmary’
      • ‘Trafford General Hospital's unit is also facing the axe.’
      • ‘The revised sums mean five football pitches across Southampton that were facing the axe in a bid to save £58,000 a year will now be saved.’
      • ‘Clayton Heights post office is one of 17 Bradford branches facing the axe after Post Office Ltd announced major restructuring.’
      • ‘The Royal Scots and the Black Watch are among other famous regiments facing the axe, while at least one of the two Gurkha battalions is likely to be wound up.’
      • ‘The problem is particularly acute in the North-eastern states, which account for about half of the ministers facing the axe.’
      • ‘Residents and users of Croydon's libraries inundated the Guardian newsroom with letters of protest after reading that they could be facing the axe.’
      • ‘Residents and traders from Bitterne Park staged the protest at Bitterne Park Triangle, where the post office is one of ten across the city facing the axe.’
      • ‘High-ranking officers have joined forces with ex-soldiers in the fight to maintain the historic name of their regiment which is facing the axe.’
      • ‘Cooks at York old peoples' homes are facing the axe under a proposal to buy meals-on-wheels from York District Hospital for residents.’
      • ‘The three frigates facing the axe, Marlborough, Norfolk and Grafton, will be taken out of service by March 2006.’
      • ‘The Dukes is facing the axe as part of the Defence Secretary's plan to cut the number of infantry battalions nationwide from 40-36.’
      • ‘A meeting of the county council's Education Policy Review Committee left three infant and three junior schools facing the axe.’
      • ‘Long-running soap Brookside was last night facing the axe after Channel 4 announced it was moving it from the peak-time evening slot.’
      • ‘Parents and children at Outwood Primary School, Heald Green, who mounted a vigorous campaign to save their school, are still facing the axe.’
      • ‘The end is near for a group of four Basingstoke post offices facing the axe, with two set to close this week and another following within a fortnight.’
      • ‘The proposed closures come on top of six branches in Rochdale and Royton which have shut since June last year and a further seven branches in Heywood and Middleton which are facing the axe.’
      • ‘Nineteen children's playgrounds may be facing the axe in the latest round of Lancaster City Council cost-cuts.’
      • ‘Post offices in Pewsham, near Chippenham, and Frampton Cotterell and Hambrook in Gloucestershire are the other branches in the region facing the axe next month.’
      • ‘Another 50 jobs in the finance sector are also facing the axe, many at account level.’
      • ‘Kilmacthomas Courthouse is one of three courthouses in Co. Waterford facing the axe.’
  • 2informal A musical instrument used in popular music or jazz, especially a guitar or (originally) a saxophone.

    • ‘They know how to bang riffs out of their axes well, but it tends to get buried beneath the mediocrity and predictability of their songwriting.’
    • ‘Ultimately it was this restless search for new lines of axe exploration that led to his becoming bored very quickly with each project he was involved in.’
    • ‘At one point, all 10 multi-instrumentalists set down their axes in the middle of a piece and sang in gentle, unearthly harmony.’
    • ‘In terms of performance he doesn't disappoint, from miming along to a solo on his guitar to shooting at members of the audience with his plastic axe.’
    • ‘That's to say, he plays as if he knows what his next line is going to sound like before he goes slamming it out of his axe, and that's a mighty big step to make.’
    • ‘They didn't fit in with the lo-fi angst of grunge and they don't have anything in common with the media - savvy guitar heroes who wield an axe for MTV or AOL.’
    • ‘It wasn't an axe, but a musical instrument that was made to look like one.’
    • ‘They may not have the baddest axes, but as they state on the track, they've ‘got an amplifier.’’
    • ‘The band's dueling guitars harken back to the arty axe work of the quintessential NYC act Television.’
    • ‘One guitarist was wielding the same kind of axe Dave Grohl uses.’
    • ‘This is backed up by the first single ‘Slow Burn’ which features some ridiculously truculent axe work from Pete Townshend.’
    • ‘The ex-rocker techno DJ's love affair with the axe was in fact a renewed one, after he'd put the instrument aside for a decade.’
    • ‘There was a squeally axe solo unceremoniously tacked on the end, naturally.’
    • ‘Instead of relying on the hired axes of close friends, he performs all things stringed outside of the bass.’
    • ‘On the upside, he has room to strut his nonpareil axe work, but the orchestra isn't so much an effective foil as an amenable supporter.’
    • ‘I was a little surprised at the sound it had on the electric axe, I really hadn't expected it to sound as good as it did.’


  • 1End, cancel, or dismiss suddenly and ruthlessly.

    ‘the company is axing 125 jobs’
    ‘2,500 staff were axed as part of a rationalization programme’
    • ‘Since the announcement in September 2002 that 400 jobs were to be axed over the next two years, more than 340 staff have come forward for voluntary redundancy.’
    • ‘Earlier this month the Ryedale Show was axed and others cancelled include shows at Thornton-le-Dale, Huby and Sutton, and Rosedale.’
    • ‘The depot, which employs about 250 staff, has been axed as part of a dramatic restructuring of Royal Mail's postal service in an effort to reduce daily losses of £1.5m.’
    • ‘Results for last year show most of the loss is attributed to the huge rationalisation drive undertaken last year, which resulted in 825 jobs being axed.’
    • ‘Ferry workers have already been informed that the jobs of gate hands and revenue staff are to be axed and work rosters are under review.’
    • ‘In the past 18 months, with the assistance of the trade unions, more than 900 jobs, both production and office staff, have been axed.’
    • ‘The next month the company recommended that 20 jobs should be axed among education support staff.’
    • ‘Perhaps the answer to the budget shortfall may lie in reviewing the number of higher paid managers who need to be employed, rather than axing frontline staff?’
    • ‘Shows were being axed, and others ruthlessly dumped in graveyard slots after just a couple of weeks.’
    • ‘The Yorkshire Productivity Awards have been set up to champion businesses which are bucking the trend of relocating overseas and axing jobs.’
    • ‘In correspondence and face-to-face talks with three executives, the five were told the company could not make the same level of savings by axing jobs in France and Germany.’
    • ‘Rumours that jobs would be axed at the world's biggest computer company had been in the papers earlier in the week, though the stories about restructuring had been circulating for months.’
    • ‘The scale of the crisis facing Yorkshire schools emerged last night, with more than 250 teaching jobs to be axed following a Government-funding fiasco.’
    • ‘Almost 90 members of staff were axed when it was shut down as a result of increasingly competitive market conditions and rationalisation by its owners.’
    • ‘The 33,000 former staff whose jobs were axed as part of the recovery programme are unlikely to join the celebrations, however.’
    • ‘Up to 1,200 staff will be axed in a move which involves job losses at every one of its branches in the UK - including its supermarket at Monks Cross.’
    • ‘Some 60 jobs are reported to be axed although a skeleton staff will be retained to supply European-based content for The Standard's US publication and Web site.’
    • ‘The bank had already announced in March that up to 1,700 jobs were to be axed as it looked to save about £117 million a year at the businesses.’
    • ‘Car park security staff jobs have been axed at Bradford Royal Infirmary - as hospital bosses try to solve the hospital's cash crisis.’
    • ‘She insists her announcement last week that 1,700 jobs would be axed from the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks was a decision taken here and not in Melbourne.’
    cancel, withdraw, drop, abandon, end, terminate, put an end to, discontinue
    dismiss, give someone notice, make redundant, throw out, get rid of, lay off, let go, discharge
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Reduce (costs or services) drastically.
      ‘the Chancellor warned the cabinet to axe public spending’
      • ‘BT is axing the upfront costs of signing up to its BT Broadband Basic service as part of a time-limited promo.’
      • ‘Elsewhere, One.Tel - part of the giant Centrica group - has axed the cost of its broadband activation fee until the end of March.’
      • ‘Some had feared the committee would ax spending even more.’
      • ‘There followed a horrendous package of measures to freeze pay and prices, axe public spending and jack up taxes.’
      • ‘‘Low prices still talk… to lure customers we axed gift-set prices by up to 20 percent,’ she said.’
  • 2Cut or strike with an axe, especially violently or destructively.

    ‘the mahogany panelling had been axed’
    • ‘The next day, I learned that my favorite tree had been axed to accommodate the neighbor’s car.’
    • ‘It's the woods themselves that are getting axed.’
    • ‘Swinging it open, Uncle Noah burst into the room, looking for all the world like a firefighter who had just axed his way in.’
    • ‘Jack Nicholson's crazed cry of ‘Here's Johnny’ as he axes his way through a door in pursuit of his wife has been named the most terrifying screen moment of all time.’
    • ‘The surrounding countryside is covered in axed logs, millions of them lying about awaiting process into planks.’
    • ‘They axed doors down that could easily have been opened, broke furniture unnecessarily and tipped the contents of drawers and cupboards all over the place.’


  • have an axe to grind

    • Have a private reason for doing or being involved in something.

      ‘he has no political axe to grind’
      • ‘Even if the political insider seems to have an ax to grind, political junkies never tire of their ‘I Was There’ versions of history.’
      • ‘Many of those neighbours have an axe to grind with the former Yugoslav republic.’
      • ‘Certainly, she has an axe to grind, and a battered reputation to rebuild, and so like most political memoirs this one is one-sided.’
      • ‘I wasn't inspired into public service because I have an axe to grind.’
      • ‘The problem is that everyone has an axe to grind in this story: the media, politicians, perhaps even Ministers in the Republic's government, and most certainly Sinn Fein and the IRA.’
      • ‘And if we form an alliance with the Indians, who have an axe to grind against Pakistan, we'll destabilize Pakistan and maximize our problems in Afghanistan.’
      • ‘Everyone will have one person who's had a bad experience, or has an axe to grind or something.’
      • ‘Those anxious to shout corruption either have an axe to grind or are self-righteous types.’
      • ‘This is persistent damage by someone who has an axe to grind.’
      • ‘I've had political science classes where the professor doesn't really have an ax to grind per se, but you can tell that he comes from a certain perspective.’
      • ‘Indeed, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization, none of which have an ax to grind, reject the notion.’
      • ‘While there's no doubt some of the authors had an axe to grind - they deliberately timed publication in the hope of influencing the US election - it does not follow from that that the study is flawed.’
      • ‘It's all innuendo and unsubstantiated intelligence given by people who clearly have an axe to grind.’
      • ‘Second, their fate being in their own hands, they needn't worry about being manipulated by a third party who normally has an axe to grind.’
      • ‘I don't have a connection with any one club, which is not a bad thing because I don't have an axe to grind.’
      • ‘I genuinely don't have an axe to grind with the school.’
      • ‘They are also dependent on informers who, as we journalists know, can sometimes misinform, especially if they have an axe to grind or a political goal to pursue.’
      • ‘Those opposed to the application will cry foul, and those who have an axe to grind will jump on the bandwagon, heedless of the merits and demerits of the scheme.’
      • ‘The man who wrote that mantra last week clearly has an axe to grind.’


Old English æx, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aaks and German Axt.