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What Is the Difference Between the Words “Ax” and “Axe”?

While “ax” can be used in some parts of the world, such as North America, the most common spelling remains the version ending in the letter “e.”

Beth Taylor
Beth Taylor

Is it spelled “Ax” or “Axe”?

In many cases, we can use different spellings for the same word, one of which is the word “axe.” While “ax” can be used in some parts of the world, such as North America, the most common spelling remains the version ending in the letter “e.”

“Ax” vs. “Axe”

First, let’s look at the word “axe.”

When used as a noun, an axe is a tool used for chopping wood. It consists of an iron or steel blade with a long wooden handle, and they’re usually very heavy. Axes have been around for thousands of years and are thought to date back to the Mesolithic period.

Lumberjacks typically wear flannel shirts and carry an axe.
I bought myself an axe so that I could chop my own wood.

“To axe” can also be a verb closely linked to the noun. It means to strike with an axe, although this is not the definition used most.

The bar had been axed by the time the police arrived.
All the wood has been axed and is being stored for winter.

We often use the verb “to axe” to end or cancel something rather suddenly. It also applies to dismissing people from their jobs.

The new president is going to axe all daycare schemes across the company.
I used to do extracurricular activities, but most of them have been axed.

To get the axe

The expression “to get the axe” is related to the verb “to axe,” meaning cancel something or fire someone. We use this expression when talking about the person or thing being axed.

If the campaign is a disaster, the manager will get the axe.
When the company went bankrupt, all the staff got the axe.
Many of our educational programs will likely get the axe with the proposed budget cuts.
RKO 281 (1999)
The Axiom (2018)

Other expressions with “Axe”

“Waiting for the axe to fall” is an expression that’s closely linked to “getting the axe.” This idiom means waiting for something bad to happen without doing anything to try to stop it.

Stop waiting for the axe to fall. Instead, work out how you’re going to fix it.
If your boss is going to fire you, you should start sending out resumes rather than waiting for the axe to fall.

Another common expression that uses the noun “axe” is “to have an axe to grind.” It means that somebody has a strong personal opinion about something, which is the reason for their actions. The person’s reasons are usually selfish, or they may have an ulterior motive.

He had a bad experience with the board of directors in the past, so now he has an axe to grind.
I don’t have an axe to grind. I’m simply here to find out the truth.

How do you spell “ax”?

To conclude, if you’re wondering whether or not it’s okay to spell “ax” without an “e,” then the answer is yes. It’s acceptable and not considered to be incorrect. It’s just extremely rare to come across this spelling. Most people, as well as most publications, prefer the spelling A-X-E.

Some more video examples:

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Moonlighting (1982)
EnglishWhich is correct

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.


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Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.