axe 1 or ax (ăks)
n. pl. ax·es (ăksĭz)
1. A tool with a bladed, usually heavy head mounted crosswise on a handle, used for felling trees or chopping wood.
2. Any of various bladed, handheld implements used as a cutting tool or weapon.
3. Informal A sudden termination of employment: My colleague got the axe yesterday.
4. Slang A musical instrument, especially a guitar.
tr.v. axed, ax·ing, ax·esIdiom:
1. To chop or fell with or as if with an axe: axed down the saplings; axed out a foothold in the ice.
2. Informal To remove ruthlessly or suddenly: a social program that was axed to effectuate budget cuts.
axe to grind
A selfish or ulterior aim: He claimed to be disinterested, but I knew he had an axe to grind.
[Middle English, from Old English æx.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.