have an ax to grind
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia.
Related to have an ax to grind: get the axe
have an axe 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 axe to grind. I don't have an ax to grind here—I just want to know the truth.
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.
have an axe to grind
COMMON If someone has an axe to grind, they have particular attitudes about something, often because they think they have been treated badly or because they want to get an advantage. Note: `Axe' is spelled `ax' in American English. Lord Gifford believed cases should be referred by an independent agency which, as he put it, doesn't have an axe to grind. He didn't have a critical ax to grind. He was very open-minded about other people's work. Note: You can also say that you have no axe to grind to deny that your strong opinions about something are based on personal reasons. The unions insist they have no axe to grind, because they will represent operators wherever they work. Note: There are several explanations for the origin of this expression. One is a story told by Benjamin Franklin about a man who managed to get his own axe sharpened by asking a boy to show him how his father's grindstone worked.
have an axe to grindhave a private, sometimes malign, motive for doing or being involved in something.
The expression originated in a story told by Benjamin Franklin and was used first in the USA, especially with reference to politics, but it is now in general use.
1997 Times I am a non-smoker, and have no personal axe to grind.