One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An axe carried on board a boat.
Archaeol. A type of thin, stone battleaxe with a head shaped like an upturned boat, used in the late Neolithic period in the Baltic region and Scandinavia, especially as a symbol of social status.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in William Scoresby (1789–1857), Arctic scientist and Church of England clergyman. From boat + axe.
boat axe/ˈbəʊt aks/
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