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A person hired by a company to make sweeping changes to save money, usually by reducing staff. We knew our days were numbered when our company brought in a hatchet man to make cuts to the staff.
a man who does the cruel or difficult things for someone else; someone who does someone else's dirty work. He served as the president's hatchet man and ended up doing all the dirty work.
1. A person assigned or hired to carry out a disagreeable task or unscrupulous order. For example, When it came to firing an employee, Arthur was his boss's hatchet man. This expression originally referred to a hired assassin but in the mid-1900s was transferred to less nefarious enterprises.
2. A person who attacks the reputation of others, especially a journalist hired to do so, as in You can count on Mary's column to destroy the mayor-she's the perfect hatchet man. This usage gave rise to hatchet job, meaning "harsh destructive criticism." [Mid-1900s]
a hatchet manINFORMAL
A hatchet man is someone who is employed to do unpleasant tasks, especially to get rid of jobs in a company. Note: A hatchet is a small axe. Hall, they reckoned, was a hatchet man, out to shred the workforce and totally crush the union. Note: A woman who does a similar job can be called a hatchet woman. She had a reputation for being a ruthless hatchet woman. Note: This expression is usually used to show disapproval. Note: This expression may relate to violent gang warfare in the United States during the early part of the 20th century. Gangs often hired an assassin or `hatchet man' to hack an important member of a rival gang to death with a hatchet. This work was known as a `hatchet job'.