hatchet man

hatchet man

noun
1.
a professional murderer.
2.
a writer or speaker who specializes in defamatory attacks, as on political candidates or public officials.
3.
a person whose job it is to execute unpleasant tasks for a superior, as dismissing employees.
Also, hatchetman.
Also called axman.


Origin:
1745–55, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
hatchet man
 
n
1.  a person carrying out unpleasant assignments for an employer or superior
2.  (US), (Canadian) a hired murderer
3.  a severe or malicious critic

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

hatchet man

  1. A person assigned or hired to carry out a disagreeable task or unscrupulous order. For example, When it came to firing an employee, Arthur was his boss's hatchet man. This expression originally referred to a hired assassin but in the mid-1900s was transferred to less nefarious enterprises.

  2. A person who attacks the reputation of others, especially a journalist hired to do so, as in You can count on Mary's column to destroy the mayorshe's the perfect hatchet man. This usage gave rise to , meaning "harsh destructive criticism." [Mid-1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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