an axe to grind

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an axe 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.
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 axe to grind. I don't have an axe to grind here—I just want to know the truth.
See also: axe, grind

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

axe to grind

A selfish or ulterior aim: He claimed to be disinterested, but I knew he had an axe to grind.
See also: axe, grind