Definition of tomahawk in English:



  • A light ax used as a tool or weapon by American Indians.

    • ‘On display on the ground floor of the well-preserved premises are colourful beads and stones, rolls of fur and skins, tomahawks and axes that Indians traded for bales of cloth, guns and other manufactured goods from Europe.’
    • ‘They carried medicine bundles, the red sticks of invincibility, and their tomahawks, and they also carried rifles and guns from Panton Leslie and Company.’
    • ‘The French fought with firearms, while traditional Iroquois weapons were bows and arrows, stone tomahawks, and wooden warclubs.’
    • ‘The drop earrings, tomahawk, knife and scabbard, and bow and arrows vie for the viewer's attention with the striking claret color of the headdress, which matches both the fringe of the frock coat and one of the shoulder sashes.’
    • ‘The demand for his knives, tomahawks, powder horns, hunting pouches and other hand-crafted items finally grew to the point it became a full time endeavor.’
    • ‘I think about my teepee, my tomahawk, my stocky bay horse who is standing even now, a striped blanket thrown over his back, ready to gallop me over the plains, into the red and dusty West.’
    • ‘Putting his performance down to beginner's luck, I stepped up for another go, determined not to lay down my weapons until I had succeeded in making at least one tomahawk stick in the tree trunk.’
    • ‘Haynes seems to have included the pendant, separated from the tomahawk, in some pictures simply as another piece of Indian beadwork.’
    • ‘A little over 300 years ago, shrieking war cries and flying tomahawks shattered the summer calm in a frontier town of the Massachusetts Province.’
    • ‘The party is ambushed by Cherokee Indians who attack with bow and arrow, tomahawks, and a handful of lever action rifles.’
    • ‘He was arrested for possession of a weapon, the tomahawk, and the report indicated the police officer used force by drawing his service weapon to affect the arrest.’
    • ‘The original Native American tap was simply a V-shaped incision made with a tomahawk, and it allowed the sap to flow down into a bowl.’
    • ‘Drawn in the tradition of rock art, these last depict the weapons and utensils necessary for hunting and fighting - spears, shields, boomerangs, digging sticks, sharpening stones and tomahawks.’
    • ‘Above the clasped hands are a peace pipe and a tomahawk.’
    • ‘Having now experienced the skill involved in throwing a tomahawk, how Sitting Bull and Little White Dove managed to hunt, kill and bring home the buffalo for dinner is beyond me.’
    • ‘She was as good with a gun, knife or tomahawk as any man alive, and though eastern schools had polished her vocabulary and ignited an unquenchable curiosity in her they had done little to tame her.’
    • ‘The latter was given in full war paint and feathers, to the music of native drums and was accompanied by the usual brandishing of tomahawks and scalping knives.’
    • ‘On one occasion the men dared Daniel T. Potts to charge a buffalo armed only with a tomahawk.’
    • ‘Munduli is ‘the tomahawk place’ where they used to get stone for tomahawks.’
    • ‘Steel pots and knives, tomahawks, glass beads, manufactured cloth, guns, and gunpowder gradually replaced traditional products of native manufacture.’
    poleaxe, axe, pike, halberd, tomahawk, war mattock, mace
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  • Strike or cut with or as if with a tomahawk.

    • ‘But I suppose it was her last chance and the old man would have tomahawked me if I hadn't taken her.’
    • ‘Later, a coroner found that he had been tomahawked several times, causing instant death.’


Early 17th century: from a Virginia Algonquian language.