|1.||a person carrying out unpleasant assignments for an employer or superior|
|2.||(US), (Canadian) a hired murderer|
|3.||a severe or malicious critic|
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.
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]