an ax(e) to grind

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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.
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.
See also: grind, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 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.

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, to
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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: ax, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
But then the Church came to the front, with an axe to grind; and she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat -- or a nation; she invented "divine right of kings," and propped it all around, brick by brick, with the Beatitudes -- wrenching them from their good purpose to make them fortify an evil one; she preached (to the commoner) humility, obedience to superiors, the beauty of self-sacrifice; she preached
But each of them had a prize to win, a goal to kick, an axe to grind, a race to run, a new thrust in tierce to deliver, a name to carve, a crow to pick--so they were not followers of true adventure.
I know a lot of City fans and football fans in general think I've an axe to grind with City and with Pep Guardiola (above), but I haven't.
GOT an axe to grind? Take it out at this huge axe-throwing competition, which launches at Whistle Punks venues across the UK next year.
One of them said: "It's clear to me Dr Frost has an axe to grind."
Schools are there for learning, not to be lectured or brainwashed by pen-pushing job centre gurus with an axe to grind.
In the opening show, the big names with an axe to grind are David Tennant, Trevor McDonald and Aisling Bea.
Even on the happiest day of his life, our embittered thesp has an axe to grind.
Even on E the happiest day of his life, our embittered thesp has an axe to grind.
Unless they are being bankrolled by somebody with financial resources with an axe to grind, I cannot understand why disgruntled supporters continue to attend matches and further contribute to Ashley's wealth and go to the expense of producing 30,000 placards and 100 flags.
A Lib Dem source said: "Lembit has an axe to grind against the leadership."
At Argo's BFI London Film Festival premiere, Affleck said he took care to make sure those with "an axe to grind" could not politicise the project.
We need to benefit the majority, not the vocal backward-looking minority with an axe to grind.
The last thing we need is someone with an axe to grind saying bad things about the show before it even starts," a source said.
It strikes me that the last place to look for guidance should be our MPs who clearly have an axe to grind what with boundary changes and reductions in the number of seats which could see some of them suffering redundancy at the next election.