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[hyoo or, often, yoo] /hyu or, often, yu/
verb (used with object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hewing.
to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.
to make, shape, smooth, etc., with cutting blows:
to hew a passage through the crowd; to hew a statue from marble.
to sever (a part) from a whole by means of cutting blows (usually followed by away, off, out, from, etc.):
to hew branches from the tree.
to cut down; fell:
to hew wood; trees hewed down by the storm.
verb (used without object), hewed, hewed or hewn, hewing.
to strike with cutting blows; cut:
He hewed more vigorously each time.
to uphold, follow closely, or conform (usually followed by to):
to hew to the tenets of one's political party.
Origin of hew
before 900; Middle English hewen, Old English hēawan; cognate with German hauen, Old Norse hǫggva; akin to haggle
Related forms
hewable, adjective
hewer, noun
unhewable, adjective
unhewed, adjective
Can be confused
hew, hue, Hugh.
1. See cut. 2. form. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hew out
Historical Examples
  • Suppose a passage first cut; then they hew out chambers on either side, each about twelve feet wide.

    Taking Tales W.H.G. Kingston
  • I guess I can wait till they've begun to hew out their underpinnin'.

    Country Neighbors Alice Brown
  • Now, yesterday I broke my axletree, and I go and hew out a new one of green wood.

    A Russian Proprietor Lyof N. Tolstoi
  • It is in principle to forsake the Fountain of living waters, and hew out for ourselves broken cisterns which can hold no water.

    The Great Commission C. H. (Charles Henry) Mackintosh
  • The quarry is deep, the tools too weak to hew out the stones.

    Child of a Century, Complete Alfred de Musset
  • The result is that our feathered carpenter, not being over-valorous, retires and proceeds to hew out another nest.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
  • We shall not be obliged to hew out our material with broadaxes, nor blast it out with dynamite.

    Among the Forces Henry White Warren
  • There was nothing to bring them here; and as they toiled at piece-work, they would not lift a pick except to hew out coal.

    Son Philip George Manville Fenn
  • But soon the body asked him to hew out a second cave in addition to the one nature had provided.

    A Man's Value to Society Newell Dwight Hillis
  • So resistant is the columnar basalt in this locality that the ice has been unable to hew out a wider passage.

    Mount Rainier Various
British Dictionary definitions for hew out


verb hews, hewing, hewed, hewed, hewn (hjuːn)
to strike (something, esp wood) with cutting blows, as with an axe
(transitive) often foll by out. to shape or carve from a substance
(transitive; often foll by away, down, from, off, etc) to sever from a larger or another portion
(US & Canadian) (intransitive) often foll by to. to conform (to a code, principle, etc)
Derived Forms
hewer, noun
Word Origin
Old English hēawan; related to Old Norse heggva, Old Saxon hāwa, Old High German houwan, Latin cūdere to beat


abbreviation (in the US)
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
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 hew out



Old English heawan "to chop, hack, gash" (class VII strong verb; past tense heow, past participle heawen), earlier geheawan, from Proto-Germanic *hawwan (cf. Old Norse hoggva, Old Frisian hawa, Old Saxon hauwan, Middle Dutch hauwen, Dutch houwen, Old High German houwan, German hauen "to cut, strike, hew"), from PIE root *kau- "to hew, strike" (cf. Old Church Slavonic kovo, Lithuanian kauju "to beat, forge;" Latin cudere "to strike, beat;" Middle Irish cuad "beat, fight").

Weak past participle hewede appeared 14c., but hasn't displaced hewn. Seemingly contradictory sense of "hold fast, stick to" (in phrase hew to) developed from hew to the line "stick to a course," literally "cut evenly with an axe or saw," first recorded 1891. Related: Hewed; hewing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Related Abbreviations for hew out


Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
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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