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a broadax formerly used as a weapon of war.
Slang. a domineering, aggressive, sharp-tempered person, especially a woman.
Historical Examples

battle-axe, boarding-pike, pistol, and dagger were the weapons.
The Rise of the Dutch Republic, Volume II.(of III) 1566-74 John Lothrop Motley

He had just felled one of the fiercest Amalekites with his battle-axe.
Joshua, Complete Georg Ebers

I will strike him to the earth with my battle-axe—I will convert him to Holy Church with such blows as he has rarely endured.
The Talisman Sir Walter Scott

Farwell might be compared to a battle-axe; Dunne to a rapier.
Desert Conquest A. M. Chisholm

But the Irish battle-axe might well have set even more secure protection at defiance.
An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 Mary Frances Cusack

Bloodily, bloodily fall the battle-axe, unexhausted, inexorable!
Darkness and Dawn Frederic W. Farrar

“Twere better to have died;” and cleft his skull with one stroke of his battle-axe.
A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

A stroke from some battle-axe had split the head down to the chin.
Belgium George W. T. (George William Thomson) Omond

Metaphorically and actually, the lance and the battle-axe were still rivalling each other in the warfare of daily life.
Of Six Medival Women Alice Kemp-Welch

Where it is still, with the mark of a cut from sword or battle-axe plain to see.
The Church of Grasmere Mary L. Armitt

(formerly) a large broad-headed axe
(informal) an argumentative domineering woman

late 14c., weapon of war, from battle (n.) + axe (n.); meaning “formidable woman” is U.S. slang, first recorded 1896.


An ill-tempered woman, esp a mean old woman; virago (1890s+)

a mallet or heavy war-club. Applied metaphorically (Jer. 51:20) to Cyrus, God’s instrument in destroying Babylon.


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  • Battle-bow

    battle-bow the war-bow used in fighting (Zech. 9:10; 10:4). “Thy bow was made quite naked” (Hab. 3:9) means that it was made ready for use. By David’s order (2 Sam. 1:18) the young men were taught the use, or rather the song of the bow. (See ARMOUR ØT0000315, BOW.)

  • Battle-ground state

    a state of the U.S. in which the Democratic and Republican candidates both have a good chance of winning: the swing states of Ohio and Indiana.

  • Battle royal

    a fight in which more than two combatants are engaged. a heated argument: After a while the discussion turned into a battle royal. Contemporary Examples A faceless person casually explains that, since he has “to be there anyway,” he “might as well take part in the battle royal.” American Nightmare: Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ at […]

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