One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A person employed to carry out controversial or disagreeable tasks, such as the dismissal of a number of people from employment.‘he sent over his ace hatchet man to intimidate the business leaders’
hoodlum, racketeer, bandit, robber, ruffian, thug, tough, desperado, outlaw, villain, lawbreaker, criminalView synonyms
- ‘Many of them have been behaving like servile hatchet men and not as members of elite services owing unshakeable allegiance to the Constitution, the laws of the land and the principles of democratic governance.’
- ‘A cafe owner vouches for them and they are freed, but it isn't long before they come face to face with the bloodthirsty robber and his hatchet man!’
- ‘Government hatchet men raided Gilani's Delhi home and ‘stumbled’ on a computer file about Indian troop deployments in Kashmir.’
- ‘The hatchet men stand ready for him behind the door with a rolling pin, and when he gets home, they let him have it.’
- ‘An assortment of hatchet men, opportunists and sycophants gained access to the levers of power.’
- 1.1 A person who writes fierce attacks on others or their work.‘he has abandoned the pretence that he is an impartial reporter—he is a hatchet man of the far right’
- ‘Washington Post hatchet man Michael Kelly joined in this macarena of meretricious mendacity.’
- ‘His reputation as the party's hatchet man related especially to his attacks on Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats' presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956.’
- ‘It's not surprising that Krugman is reading a book written by an admitted hatchet man and liar.’
- ‘The hagiographers and the hatchet men have only begun to do their best - or their worst - on the already weathered marble bust of Rudolf Nureyev's reputation.’
- ‘Those of us who pay any attention should have realized by now that there are two or three persons in the media who call themselves journalists when, in fact, they are really hatchet men.’
Late 19th century (originally US): figuratively, from an early use denoting a hired Chinese assassin.
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