plural of axis1 .
plural of ax or axe.
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.

dismissal from employment:
to get the ax.
expulsion from school.
rejection by a lover, friend, etc.:
His girlfriend gave him the ax.
any usually summary removal or curtailment.

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.
the line about which a rotating body, such as the earth, turns.

a central line that bisects a two-dimensional body or figure.
a line about which a three-dimensional body or figure is symmetrical.


a central or principal structure, about which something turns or is arranged:
the skeletal axis.
the second cervical vertebra.

Botany. the longitudinal support on which organs or parts are arranged; the stem and root; the central line of any body.
Analytic Geometry. any line used as a fixed reference in conjunction with one or more other references for determining the position of a point or of a series of points forming a curve or a surface.
Compare x-axis, y-axis.
Crystallography, crystallographic axis.
Aeronautics. any one of three lines defining the attitude of an airplane, one being generally determined by the direction of forward motion and the other two at right angles to it and to each other.
Fine Arts. an imaginary line, in a given formal structure, about which a form, area, or plane is organized.
an alliance of two or more nations to coordinate their foreign and military policies, and to draw in with them a group of dependent or supporting powers.
the Axis, (in World War II) Germany, Italy, and Japan, often with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
a principal line of development, movement, direction, etc.
axis deer.
Contemporary Examples

She axes the terrible contestants while still soothing them, flashing that sweet J.Lo smile, for the sake of our entertainment.
A Love Letter to ‘American Idol’ Judge Nicki Minaj Ramin Setoodeh March 6, 2013

He is praised in the TLS for having “no axes to grind” and, unlike Boswell, not writing in competition with his subject.
The Best of Brit Lit Peter Stothard August 28, 2009

Using those two axes, you gain a broad view but also one that has depth.
Lawrence Wright: How I Write Noah Charney May 21, 2013

The attacks from people with their own axes to grind also come with the territory.
A Hollywood Player’s Second Act Nicole LaPorte May 19, 2010

These are just a few of the people who could get the shaft if the Supreme Court axes the Affordable Care Act.
Who’s Screwed If Obamacare Gets the Ax? Jesse Singal June 26, 2012

Historical Examples

At any rate they hewed the former out with axes and removed the latter before tumbling the carcass into the grave.
The Ivory Child H. Rider Haggard

One of the Creator’s lamentable mistakes, repented in sashcloth and axes.
The Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce

The Kinganni river was reached by a bridge rapidly formed with American axes, the donkeys refusing to pass through the water.
Great African Travellers W.H.G. Kingston

Every tithing-man in Somersetshire is searching for axes and scythes.
Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle

I ain’t courted her fer long ‘case de marster gives his permission ‘fore I axes fer hit.
Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, North Carolina Narratives, Part 2 Work Projects Administration

the plural of axis1
the plural of axe
noun (pl) axes
a hand tool with one side of its head forged and sharpened to a cutting edge, used for felling trees, splitting timber, etc See also hatchet
an axe to grind

an ulterior motive
a grievance
a pet subject

(informal) the axe

dismissal, esp from employment; the sack (esp in the phrase get the axe)
(Brit) severe cutting down of expenditure, esp the removal of unprofitable sections of a public service

(US, slang) any musical instrument, esp a guitar or horn
verb (transitive)
to chop or trim with an axe
(informal) to dismiss (employees), restrict (expenditure or services), or terminate (a project)
noun (pl) axes (ˈæksiːz)
a real or imaginary line about which a body, such as an aircraft, can rotate or about which an object, form, composition, or geometrical construction is symmetrical
one of two or three reference lines used in coordinate geometry to locate a point in a plane or in space
(anatomy) the second cervical vertebra Compare atlas (sense 3)
(botany) the main central part of a plant, typically consisting of the stem and root, from which secondary branches and other parts develop
an alliance between a number of states to coordinate their foreign policy
(optics) Also called principal axis. the line of symmetry of an optical system, such as the line passing through the centre of a lens
(geology) an imaginary line along the crest of an anticline or the trough of a syncline
(crystallog) one of three lines passing through the centre of a crystal and used to characterize its symmetry
noun (pl) axises
any of several S Asian deer of the genus Axis, esp A. axis. They typically have a reddish-brown white-spotted coat and slender antlers

the Axis, the alliance of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan, established in 1936 and lasting until their defeat in World War II
(as modifier): the Axis powers


Old English æces (Northumbrian acas) “axe, pickaxe, hatchet,” later æx, from Proto-Germanic *akusjo (cf. Old Saxon accus, Old Norse ex, Old Frisian axe, German Axt, Gothic aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- (cf. Greek axine, Latin ascia).

The spelling ax is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than axe, which became prevalent during the 19th century; but it is now disused in Britain. [OED]

The spelling ax, though “better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, & analogy” (OED), is so strange to 20th-c. eyes that it suggests pedantry & is unlikely to be restored. [Fowler]

Meaning “musical instrument” is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for “guitar” dates to 1967. The axe in figurative sense of cutting of anything (expenses, workers, etc.), especially as a cost-saving measure, is from 1922, probably from the notion of the headman’s literal axe (itself attested from mid-15c.). To have an axe to grind is from an 1815 essay by U.S. editor and politician Charles Miner (1780-1865) in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense. Misattributed to Benjamin Franklin in Weekley, OED print edition, and many other sources.


1670s, “to shape or cut with an axe,” from axe (n.). Meaning “to remove, severely reduce,” usually figurative, recorded by 1922. Related: Axed; axing.

1540s, “imaginary straight line around which a body (such as the Earth) rotates,” from Latin axis “axle, pivot, axis of the earth or sky,” from PIE *aks- “axis” (cf. Old English eax, Old High German ahsa “axle;” Greek axon “axis, axle, wagon;” Sanskrit aksah “an axle, axis, beam of a balance;” Lithuanian aszis “axle”). Figurative sense in world history of “alliance between Germany and Italy” (later extended unetymologically to include Japan) is from 1936. Original reference was to a “Rome-Berlin axis” in central Europe. The word later was used in reference to a London-Washington axis (World War II) and a Moscow-Peking axis (early Cold War).

see axe (n.).

ax abbr.

axis ax·is (āk’sĭs)
n. pl. ax·es (āk’sēz’)

A real or imaginary straight line about which a body or geometric object rotates or may be conceived to rotate.

A center line to which parts of a structure or body may be referred.

The second cervical vertebra. Also called epistropheus, vertebra dentata.

An artery that divides into many branches at its origin.

Plural axes (āk’sēz’)

An imaginary line around which an object rotates. In a rotating sphere, such as the Earth and other planets, the two ends of the axis are called poles. The 23.45° tilt of the Earth’s axis with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun causes the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to point toward and away from the Sun at different times of the year, creating seasonal patterns of weather and climate. Other planets in the solar system have widely varying tilts to their axes, ranging from near 0° for Mercury to 177° for Venus.


A line, ray, or line segment with respect to which a figure or object is symmetrical.

A reference line from which distances or angles are measured in a coordinate system, such as the x-axis and y-axis in the Cartesian coordinate system.

Anatomy The second cervical vertebra, which serves as a pivot for the head.

Botany The main stem or central part of a plant or plant part, about which other plant parts, such as branches or leaflets, are arranged.

axial adjective

An imaginary straight line passing through the North Pole, the center of the Earth, and the South Pole. The Earth rotates around this axis.

In geometry, a straight line about which an object may rotate or that divides an object into symmetrical halves.

Note: The axis of the Earth is an imaginary line drawn through the North Pole and the South Pole.


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


To dismiss someone from a job, a team, a school, a relationship, etc; can, fire: who suggested to Reagan that Deaver be axed
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]
ask (shortwave transmission)

used in the Authorized Version of Deut. 19:5; 20:19; 1 Kings 6:7, as the translation of a Hebrew word which means “chopping.” It was used for felling trees (Isa. 10:34) and hewing timber for building. It is the rendering of a different word in Judg. 9:48, 1 Sam. 13:20, 21, Ps. 74:5, which refers to its sharpness. In 2 Kings 6:5 it is the translation of a word used with reference to its being made of iron. In Isa. 44:12 the Revised Version renders by “axe” the Hebrew _maatsad_, which means a “hewing” instrument. In the Authorized Version it is rendered “tongs.” It is also used in Jer. 10:3, and rendered “axe.” The “battle-axe” (army of Medes and Persians) mentioned in Jer. 51:20 was probably, as noted in the margin of the Revised Version, a “maul” or heavy mace. In Ps. 74:6 the word so rendered means “feller.” (See the figurative expression in Matt. 3:10; Luke 3:9.)

In addition to the idiom beginning with ax


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