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[hach-it] /ˈhætʃ ɪt/
a small, short-handled ax having the end of the head opposite the blade in the form of a hammer, made to be used with one hand.
a tomahawk.
verb (used with object)
to cut, destroy, kill, etc., with a hatchet.
to abridge, delete, excise, etc.:
The network censor may hatchet 30 minutes from the script.
bury the hatchet, to become reconciled or reunited; make peace.
take up the hatchet, to begin or resume hostilities; prepare for or go to war:
The natives are taking up the hatchet against the enemy.
Origin of hatchet
1300-50; 1670-80, Americanism for def 6; Middle English hachet < Middle French hachette, diminutive (see -et) of hache ax < Frankish *hapja kind of knife; akin to Greek kóptein to cut (cf. comma, syncope)
Related forms
hatchetlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hatchet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Martha went out to the wagon to get a hatchet and set out for the nearby spinny of pines to trim off some twigs.

    Blind Man's Lantern Allen Kim Lang
  • Oh, how I understood now the rascally-looking fellow, with his hatchet and tomahawk!

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • It is the mark you cut on the tree with your hatchet by which when you are on the trail you may tell your way back home again.

    The American Country Girl Martha Foote Crow
  • The next moment he threw the hatchet at me, and began to run toward me.

  • Two or three had muskets, and more than one hatchet and long knife could be seen beneath the blankets they wore.

    In the Van; or, The Builders John Price-Brown
British Dictionary definitions for hatchet


a short axe used for chopping wood, etc
a tomahawk
(modifier) of narrow dimensions and sharp features: a hatchet face
bury the hatchet, to cease hostilities and become reconciled
Derived Forms
hatchet-like, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French hachette, from hache axe, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German happa knife
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hatchet

c.1300 "small ax" (mid-12c. in surnames), from Old French hachete, diminutive of hache "ax, battle-axe, pickaxe," possibly from Frankish *happja or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hæbijo (cf. Old High German happa "sickle, scythe"), from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike" (cf. Greek kopis "knife;" Lithuanian kaplys "hatchet," kapoti "cut small;" Old Church Slavonic skopiti "castrate").

In Middle English, hatch itself was used in a sense "battle-axe." In 14c., hang up (one's) hatchet meant "stop what one is doing." Phrase bury the hatchet (1794) is from a supposed Native American peacemaking custom. Hatchet-man was originally California slang for "hired Chinese assassin" (1880), later extended figuratively to journalists who attacked the reputation of a public figure (1944).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with hatchet
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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