Definition of poleax in US English:


(also poleaxe)


  • 1

    another term for battle-ax (sense 1)
    • ‘Both demons wore heavy, dark armour, covered in spikes, and brandished long poleaxes.’
    • ‘After getting hit a few times with the poleaxe and half-moon blades, she'd taken out her opponents in under five minutes, the second in less than three.’
    1. 1.1 A short-handled ax with a spike at the back, formerly used in naval warfare for boarding, resisting boarders, and cutting ropes.
    2. 1.2 A butcher's ax with a hammerhead at the back, used to slaughter animals.


[with object]
  • 1Hit, kill, or knock down with or as if with a poleax.

    • ‘Inside is a room with just four tables, a couple of huge stacks of tottering CDs that threaten to poleaxe the barman, and shelves lined with wine bottles, each one with the price scribbled on the glass in silver magic marker.’
    • ‘However, being almost poleaxed by a runaway motorbike is not usually part of an evening of entertainment.’
    • ‘In just the second game of his comeback from a nine-week lay-off with a torn cruciate ligament, the Great Britain prop was poleaxed in the build-up to the final try of the game and had to be helped from the field after refusing a stretcher.’
    • ‘The missile hit him full on the knee, poleaxing him to the ground, and ricocheted into the river.’
    • ‘Unfortunately a handful of the spectators misbehaved - the best knockout of the night left one spectator poleaxed for several minutes.’
    • ‘In the fight with Martin, Liston was poleaxed by a thunderous right hand and was counted out.’
    • ‘Having poleaxed the thug, she sauntered off, leaving the detail of his detainment to two remarkably civic-minded passers-by.’
    • ‘The one blot came towards the end and a grotesque-looking high tackle by Terry Newton that left Jon Wilkin poleaxed and could result in serious trouble for the Great Britain hooker when the RFL executive reviews the video on Monday.’
    • ‘There was no let-up even as he neared his century, with one glorious straight six off Danish Kaneria poleaxing the cameraman at long-on.’
    • ‘But the local area surveillance technology involved is poleaxing cars, immobilising them and/or setting off their alarms.’
    • ‘For a few minutes, his primary emotion was self-pity, and then he looked up at the television, watching as Robbie Kearns, whom he had poleaxed with a stiff arm to the head, was brought around and the game began to unfold.’
    • ‘Friday morning I woke up feeling like I'd been poleaxed, as did Heather.’
    • ‘The one black mark for Bridge was a serious injury to striker Phil Eastwood, who was taken to hospital for tests after being poleaxed by a clearance.’
    • ‘Barnado, who recently poleaxed American Peter McNeely to register the first defence, was knocked out by Nel in the first round in their bout which took place a few years ago.’
    • ‘If a rugby player or boxer had spent almost 15 minutes unconscious after a taking a heavy tackle or being poleaxed by a crushing right hook, the minimum rest period would be a month.’
    • ‘He poleaxed Salmenaga once in the first round, and for the KO in the third.’
    • ‘Ball had been niggling away at the Dutch striker, but, as they turned to run towards the box, his elbow poleaxed the young defender.’
    • ‘Parkinson's super 40-yard angled pass split the Ashton defence and it was all keeper Trueman could do to poleaxe Fitzgerald as he homed in on goal.’
    • ‘Whether it made contact or not, Cuthbertson collapsed, apparently poleaxed.’
    1. 1.1 Cause great shock to (someone)
      ‘I was poleaxed by this revelation’
      • ‘I was just stunned by how the gaps in his answers didn't seem like he was thinking, but that he was poleaxed.’
      • ‘Colonel Anderson looked like he'd been poleaxed when he heard you laugh for the first time, when you slipped and I barely caught you that time.’


Middle English: related to Middle Dutch pol(l)aex, Middle Low German pol(l)exe (see poll, ax). The change in the first syllable was due to association with pole; the first element poll- may have referred to a special head of the ax or to the head of an enemy.