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A strong-willed, argumentative woman, typically older in age, who is considered overbearing or domineering. My grandmother was always the matriarch of the entire family, an old battle-axe who answered to no one but God. I gained a reputation of being a bit of a battle ax in the office because of how outspoken and unbending I am about certain issues.
an ax(e) hanging over (someone or something)
1. The threat of being fired. There's definitely going to be an axe hanging over me if the boss finds out that printing error was my fault.
2. The threat of being destroyed or ended. I worry that there's an axe hanging over our initiative now that our funding's been slashed.
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.
get the ax(e)
1. To be fired. I'm going to get the axe if the boss finds out that printing error was my fault.
2. To be ended or stopped abruptly. I'm so disappointed that my favorite show got the axe this year.
See also: get
get the sack
To be fired from a job or task. The new secretary is so rude—it's time she got the sack. I tried so hard to do a good job in Mrs. Smith's garden, but I got the sack anyway.
give (one) the ax(e)
To dismiss one from one's job; to fire one. The boss is going to give me the axe if he finds out that printing error was my fault.
See also: give
have an ax(e) to grind
1. To have 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. To have 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 ax to grind here—I just want to know the truth.
no ax(e) to grind
1. No complaint or dispute that one feels compelled to discuss. No, the boss has no axe to grind with us, thanks to Bob taking full responsibility for that printing mishap.
2. No personal motivation or selfish reason for saying or doing something. If Jenny said she forgives you, then it sounds like she's got no ax to grind with you. During the interview, the senator promised there no axe to grind ahead of the Ethics Committee's investigation.
Dismissal from employment. Usually used after "get" or "give." They gave me the ax for sleeping on the job. After they announced cutbacks, a lot of us were afraid of getting the axe.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
have an ax(e) to grind
Fig. to have something to complain about. Tom, I need to talk to you. I have an ax to grind. Bill and Bob went into the other room to argue. They had an axe to grind.
dismissal from one's employment. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Poor Tom got the sack today. He's always late. I was afraid that Sally was going to get the ax.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
get the ax
Also, get the boot or bounce or can or heave-ho or hook or sack . Be discharged or fired, expelled, or rejected. For example, He got the ax at the end of the first week, or The manager was stunned when he got the boot himself, or We got the bounce in the first quarter, or The pitcher got the hook after one inning, or Bill finally gave his brother-in-law the sack. All but the last of these slangy expressions date from the 1870s and 1880s. They all have variations using give that mean "to fire or expel someone," as in Are they giving Ruth the ax?Get the ax alludes to the executioner's ax, and get the boot to literally booting or kicking someone out. Get the bounce alludes to being bounced out; get the can comes from the verb can, "to dismiss," perhaps alluding to being sealed in a container; get the heave-ho alludes to heave in the sense of lifting someone bodily, and get the hook is an allusion to a fishing hook. Get the sack, first recorded in 1825, probably came from French though it existed in Middle Dutch. The reference here is to a workman's sac ("bag") in which he carried his tools and which was given back to him when he was fired. Also see give someone the air.
get the sack
see under get the ax.
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.
get the sackand get the ax
tv. to be dismissed from one’s employment. Poor Tom got the sack today. He’s always late. If I miss another day, I’ll get the ax.
get the axverb
See get the sack
give someone the ax
1. tv. to dismiss someone from employment. I was afraid they would give me the ax.
2. tv. to divorce someone. She gave him the ax because he wouldn’t stop smoking like he promised.
1. n. a bed. I was so tired I could hardly find my sack.
2. tv. to dismiss someone from employment; to fire someone. If I do that again, they’ll sack me.
3. and the sack n. a dismissal. (Always with the in this sense.) The boss gave them all the sack.
4. tv. in football, to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. I tried to sack him, but he was too fast.
5. n. the completion of a tackle in football. Andy made the sack on the ten-yard line.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 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.
A bossy, combative woman. Obviously referring to the ancient weapon, the figurative usage dates from the late 1800s. For example, “That battle-ax of a secretary guards her boss so no one can get in to see him.” The cliché is now heard less often and may be dying out.
give someone the ax, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer