ax to grind, an

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an ax(e) to grind

1. A complaint or dispute that one feels compelled to discuss. I think the boss has a bit of an axe to grind with you over the way the account was handled. If Jenny said she forgives you, then it sounds like she doesn't have an ax to grind with you after all. Hey, I've got an axe to grind with you—are you the one who stole my lunch out of the communal fridge today?
2. A personal motivation or selfish reason for saying or doing something. It was boy's-club attitudes like yours that made my time at school a living hell, so yeah, I have a bit of an ax to grind. I don't have an axe to grind here—I just want to know the truth. Those two have always been enemies, so if Henry is leading the investigation into Jerry's business practices, it's because he's got an axe to grind.
See also: an, grind, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

ax to grind

A selfish aim or motive, as in The article criticized the new software, but the author had an ax to grind, as its manufacturer had fired his son . This frequently used idiom comes from a story by Charles Miner, published in 1811, about a boy who was flattered into turning the grindstone for a man sharpening his ax. He worked hard until the school bell rang, whereupon the man, instead of thanking the boy, began to scold him for being late and told him to hurry to school. "Having an ax to grind" then came into figurative use for having a personal motive for some action. [Mid-1800s]
See also: ax, grind, to
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

ax to grind, an

A selfish motive. Allegedly this term comes from a cautionary tale by Charles Miner, first published in 1810, about a boy persuaded to turn the grindstone for a man sharpening his ax. The work not only was difficult to do but also made him late for school. Instead of praising the youngster, the man then scolded him for truancy and told him to hurry to school. Other sources attribute it to a similar story recounted by Benjamin Franklin. Whichever its origin, the term was frequently used thereafter and apparently was a cliché by the mid-nineteenth century.
See also: an, ax, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
The London and Rio De Janeiro Olympian has an ax to grind against Singapore's Ting Wen Quah and Thailand's Natthanan Junkrajang, both of whom she has yet to beat.
22] Postel, a man of no credentials, has an ax to grind but never gets it sharpened.
But Antigua also elicits bitter memories for our tour guide, who makes it clear she has an ax to grind in this short but powerful billyclub of a book.
Marcus' involvement with the Supreme Court brief on behalf of Jones should have been a clue that he was more than casually interested in Clinton's fate: Private sector lawyers, being busy people, are not the most likely of Supreme Court amici unless they have an ax to grind. Furthermore, Marcus tipped off Rosenzweig at a midweek dinner in Philadelphia where two other out-of-town lawyers also just happened to show up.
I applaud you for giving voice to a laywoman who is a good theologian without an ax to grind; one who understands the injustices of her church (especially toward women) but who remains hopeful and faithful nonetheless.
The wealthy crank with an ax to grind - not about access but about his pet cause.
Temps are objective, don't have an ax to grind and most don't understand your office politics.
The only people complaining are those that aren't successful or have an ax to grind."