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[aks] /æks/
noun, plural axes
[ak-siz] /ˈæk sɪz/ (Show IPA)
an instrument with a bladed head on a handle or helve, used for hewing, cleaving, chopping, etc.
Jazz Slang. any musical instrument.
the ax, Informal.
  1. dismissal from employment:
    to get the ax.
  2. expulsion from school.
  3. rejection by a lover, friend, etc.:
    His girlfriend gave him the ax.
  4. any usually summary removal or curtailment.
verb (used with object), axed, axing.
to shape or trim with an ax.
to chop, split, destroy, break open, etc., with an ax:
The firemen had to ax the door to reach the fire.
Informal. to dismiss, restrict, or destroy brutally, as if with an ax:
The main office axed those in the field who didn't meet their quota. Congress axed the budget.
Also, axe.
have an ax to grind, to have a personal or selfish motive:
His interest may be sincere, but I suspect he has an ax to grind.
Origin of ax
before 1000; Middle English; ax(e), ex(e), Old English æx, æces; akin to Gothic aquizi, Old Norse øx, ǫx, Old High German acc(h)us, a(c)kus (German Axt), Middle High German plural exa < Germanic *akwiz-, akuz-, aksi-*ákəs, áks-; Latin ascia (< *acsiā), Greek axī́nē; < Indo-European *ag-s-
Related forms
axlike, adjective


variant of axi-, especially before a vowel.


1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ax
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With this he raised his ax, but the woman laid her hand on his arm.

    Christ Legends Selma Lagerlf
  • In leather loops on the door he found saw, ax, chisel, and hammer.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • If he took down the saw and the ax from their hooks to inspect them, he put them back again where he had found them.

  • The pile was ordered to be built of rough wood, unpolished by the ax.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • He took his ax and cut down the stub, split it open, and found inside over two bushels of bugs.

Word Origin and History for ax

see axe (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ax in Medicine

ax abbr.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for ax



  1. Any musical instrument, esp the saxophone: He played his ax at the casino (1950s+ Jazz musicians)
  2. A guitar (Rock and roll)


  1. To dismiss someone from a job, a team, a school, a relationship, etc; can, fire: who suggested to Reagan that Deaver be axed
  2. To eliminate; cut: They axed a lot of useless stuff from the budget

[musical instrument sense fr the resemblance in shape between a saxophone and an ax, and possibly fr the rhyme with sax]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for ax


ask (shortwave transmission)


The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with ax


In addition to the idiom beginning with ax also see: get the ax
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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